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The Patriarch Nikox and His Ci,ergy. 
(Middle 17TH Century). 



















There are few people in England, probably, who have not 
read some book or article on Russia, and some aspects of the 
life of that country are well known to EngUsh people ; yet 
it is not too much to say that great ignorance prevails about 
Russia as a whole. 

The thing lacking is a knowledge of history, for history 
alone explains the present by the past, and offers the right 
vantage ground from which to view the great drama in action 
at this time. History alone will explain, for example, why 
Russia is so irresistibly drawn towards Constantinople, and 
why so much blood has been shed in vain attempts to gain 
possession of the " latchkey " to her own front door which 
the Western Powers have prevented her again and again 
from getting into her hands. 

The ancient story of Oleg the Wise hanging his shield 
on the gate of Byzantium in 911 is a symbol of Russia's 

A knowledge of history will also enable the reader to 
understand the living bond which exists between Russians 
and Balkan Slavs, who are all members of the same race and 
of the same Church, and how this bond has always reasserted 
itself when the weaker brothers had reason to call upon the 
stronger for help against Turkish Moslems. 

There are also other vital points which have to be ex- 
plained before Russia's political position can be rightly 
understood ; for the mighty Russian Empire has not been 
built in a day — from a small beginning and by a number of 
different processes it has grown to its present dimensions. 

For centuries it grew by immigration and colonisation, 
and it is only since the sixteenth century that expansion has 


come by means of conquest. In the course of the ten and a 
hiilf centuries of lier existence, Russia's poUtical centre has 
shift<Hl three times : from Kiev to Vladimir, from Vladimir 
to Moscow, and from Moscow to St Petersburg. Each of 
thest» four names represents distinct phases of development 
and periods with very definite characteristics. 

This develo})ment has not been one of continuous growth : 
it was interrupted by a great calamity, the Mongol invasion, 
wliich darivcned the thirteenth century, and from which it 
has taken centuries to recover. Again, the Russian nation 
is not a homogeneous whole, a nation of one blood ; nor 
are her peoples all on the same level of culture. Unless 
these facts are grasped, and the causes underlying the 
complexity of Russian history come to be understood, there 
can be no exact comprehension or balanced judgment of 
her problems and difficulties, and the part she has to play 
among the nations. 

It is because the history of Russia's expansion in the 
past is terra incognita to the average Englishman, that the 
present political conditions, bringing with them great expecta- 
tions to Poles and Finns for the future, cannot be rightly 

The object of this book is to supply in some measure 
information regarding certain historical and economic facts 
on matters which puzzle the man in the street ; not merely 
to recount stories, however picturesque. 

The aim in A Thousand Years of Russian History is to 
convey general impressions of the various stages passed 
through by Russia in the course of her evolution, and to give 
sketches of the lives of those of her rulers who have stamped 
their era ^vith the mark of their personality. 

The title indicates the wide limits of time and fact wliich 
have to be brought within the necessary limits of the book. In 
Chapters XXII. to XXVI. I have given concise monographs of 
those countries which by annexation or conquest have become 
an integral part of the Empire, but which cause political and 
administrative difficulties to the central Government. 

The nursery rhyme about " the old woman who lived 
in a shoe," etc., is an illustration of the Tsar's position ; only, 


in this case the children want their own shoes, while the " Little 
Father " prefers to keep them in his. 

People of all classes have so frequently asked me for 
facts and explanations about Russia, that I have been 
enabled perhaps to reahse the points on which knowledge is 
most needed ; and I trust that the information offered to 
the pubUc will help to disperse the mists of ignorance and 
prejudice which have too long enveloped the vast Russian 
Empire and its peoples, distorting the proportions of good and 
evil in its history. 

I cannot better express my hope of seeing closer and ever 
more friendly relations between the two great peoples now 
so happily allied, than by quoting the reply of Captain Chan- 
cellor, the first Enghshman who, in 1553, visited Russia, when 
asked the object of his coming : " That they were EngUshmen 
sent into those costs, from the most excellent King Edward 
the sixt, having from him in commandement certain things 
to deliver to their King, and seeking nothing else but his 
amnetie and friendship, and traffique with his people, whereby 
they doubted not, but that great commoditie and profit 
would grow to the subjects of both kingdoms." 

The maps have been adapted from Freeman's Historical 
Geography to suit the text. They illustrate the gradual 
shifting of power from Kiev to Vladimir, from Vladimir 
to Moscow, and from Moscow to St Petersburg, as well as 
Russia's territorial expansion in Europe. 

The stippling encircling certain parts designates terri- 
tories which in early days have formed part of the original 
" Russian Land," and those countries which later on have 
been joined to the Empire yet without being absorbed into 
it, such as Poland and Finland. 

In case this book should find Russian as well. as English 
readers, I may explain to the former that I have throughout 
employed the form of proper names which is traditional 
in England ; and as there is no universally accepted rule 
for spelling Russian names in English, I have transliterated 
them as simply as possible. 

I embrace this opportunity to express my very grateful 
thanks to those English friends who have so kindly helped 


iii«« hy iiMiling niy .MS. aiul |)iiiitir"s proof and by tracing 
maps and illustrations. 

1 sIhniUi lik(» also to express my indobtediiess to a Russian 
friend ft>r kindly showing me sliort-cuts to knowledge by 
iiuidinc nu' to the right sources of information, and for verify- 
iiii: niv fai'ts. 


St LrKK's Vicarac.k, Finchlky, 
5th May I 'J 16. 


Town r»oviNrE8: — Novt)ouoi>. I'skdv, Kir.v, Smoi.knsk, Polotsk. 

Kuiik : builds Ladoga : first Ruler, 862. ^ 

Olc^' (879-912) : first to make, KIEV the capital, 

Vladimir (980-1015) : iutroduces Christianity. 

Yaroslav (1015-1054) : first Law-givor. 

Vladimir Monomaoh (1113-1128) : last Ruler of 
undivided Russia. 


Kiev loses the supremacy, 1157 : is attacked in 1169 g 
by Andrei Bogolyubski. pa 

Kiev destroyed by Mongols, 1240. 

Kiev taken by Gedemin of Lithuania 1320. 

Little Russia under Lithuanian rule. 

Novgorod conquered by Muscovy, 1471-1495. 

Pskov conquered by Muscovy, 1510. 

Kiev comes under Polish rule, 1569. 


Kiev comes under Muscovite rule, 1667. 

o £ 


as >* 





Mongol j3 

Invasion, Pi 

1238. (^ 






. 2; 
g o 

o <i 

^ S 



O W "S -s 

S ^ "i -^ 

Ou ^ -S '^ 
< ^ -to 



■^^ ^ 

CO <^ 

?> CO 

«N CO 



w ^ 






^Yuri Vladimirovitch-Dolgorouki(1155-1157) : founds^ 

Andrei Bogolyubski (1157-1174) : VLADIMIR 

becomes the capital. 
Alexander Nevski (1255-1263) : first GRAND DUKE 

of Russia, 
Dmitri Donskoi (1363-1389) : wins great victory over 

the Tatars. 


Ivan III., the Great (1462-1505): ^TstRULER of All-\ 
Russia : marries Greek Princess : claims to be 
heir to Byzantine Emperors : doubled-headed 
eagle : makes MOSCOW the capital. 

Vassili III. (1505-1533): first visit by foreign am- 
bassador (Austrian). 

Ivan IV., the Terrible (1533-1584): first TSAR of 
All the Russias : first Englishman to visit 
Muscovy, 1553. 
'Boris Godounov (1598-1605): introduces serfdom: 
usurps the throne. 

Pseudo-Dmitri (1605-1606) : Polish influence para- 

Period of anarchy (1606-1612): Russia delivered by 
Minin and Pojarsky. 
/-Mikhail Romanoff (1612-1645): first of the new^ 
dynasty is elected : his father, the Patriarch 
Philaret, co-Tsar. 

Alexei Mikhailovitch (1645-1676) : Great Schism : 
Uliraina comes to Muscovy. 

Feodor Alexeievitch (1676-1682) : Western culture 
favoured : destroys Rodoslovie of the Boyars. 

Regency of the Tsarevna Sophia (1682-1689): Streltzi 






























Peter I., the Great (1689-1725) : first Eli/I PEROR of\ 

Russia : joins Baltic Provinces to Russia : founds ' 

the new capital, ST PETERSBURG. 
Catherine I., Regents, Favourites (1725-1741) : palace 

Elizabeth Petrovna (1741-1762) : carries on her 

father's ideas : Prussian War : last of the dynasty 

of Romanoff. 
/'Peter III. (1762) : first of the dynasty of Holstein- \ 

Gottorp, grandson of Peter I. : is mui'dered. J 

Catherine II., the Great (1762-1796): wars against "j 

Turkey : partition of Poland : annexed Crimea, j 
Paull. (1796-1801): reverses all his mother has done:'* 

Georgia comes to Russia : is murdered. r 

Alexander I. (1801-1825): Napoleonic War: re- 
generation of Russia : Holy Alliance : reaction 

Finland comes to Russia. 
Nicholas I. (1825-1855): Decembrist conspiracy:^ 

Polish revolution : campaigns : conquest of C. 

Caucasus : Crimean War. \ 

Alexander II. (1855-1881) : liberates serfs in 1861 : \ 

in 1862 a thousand years since Rurik. j 







XIV., XV. 


XIX., XX. 










4. THE MUSCOVITE EMPIRE (1462-1598) 

5. THE PERIOD OF TROUBLE (1598-1612) 

6. THE ROMANOFFS (1612-1689) .... 


(1689-1725) ...... 





SIGN (1762-1796) 


13. PAUL I. (1796-1801) 












SIM HACY ....... 251 

17. THE RULE UK NICHOLAS I. (1825-1855) .259 

18. CAMPAI(}NS, REVOLUTIONS, AND WARS (1825-1855) 279 


REFORMS (1855-1862) 295 


21. A LINK (1862-1915) 322 





25. POLAND 369 



INDEX ....... 426 


The Patriarch Nikon and his Clergy (middle of the 17th 

century) ......... Coloured frontispiece 



Vladimir, Grand Duke of Kiev (980-1015). (From an ancient banner) 10 

Svyatoslav Yaroslavovitch, Grand Duke of Kiev, and his Family, 1073 32 
Vladimir Monomach, Grand Duke of Kiev (1113-1128), in Council with 

his Advisers . .......... 76 

Warriors sent by Andrei Bogolyubski, Prince of Suzdal (1157-1174), 

against Novgorod .......... 94 

Tatars of the Mongol Period 130 

The Patriarch PhUaret, Father of Mikhail Romanoff, the first Tsar of 

the New Dynasty (17th century) 172 

Peter the Great in his costume as a skipper in place of the flowing Tatar 

robes worn up to the time of his reforms ..... 214 

Costume of the Boyars in the 17th century ...... 230 

Plan of the Kremlin in the reign of Boris Godounov, a.d. 1600 . . 264 

View of the Kremlin. (From a water-colour drawing, a.d. 1786) . 302 

View of the destroyed Tower of Nicholas, the Arsenal, etc., in the 

Kremlin, a.d. 1812 342 

View of the Kremlin and the Foimdling House. (From a drawing, 

A.D. 1825) 368 



St George and the Dragon (silver coin, 10th century) .... I 

Design of a Cross in the Cathedral of St Sophia in I^ev (first half of 

the 11th century) .......... 5 

Cap of Vladimir Monomach, with which the Tsars of Russia have been 

crowned from the time of Ivan the Terrible .... 41 

Jewelled Saddle of Boris Godounov (1598-1605) . . . . 57 

Double Crown of the Co-Tsars, Ivan and Peter 69 




rUuj of tho I'^tiKiiy of tho Nova (1698), showing the islands on which 

lVt«T tht> (irt'Ht built liis Capital 101 

Thi' ■■ iJnviulfathcr of tlio Ru»sian NaN'j'," tho little EngUsh boat which 

iiispiriHi IVtor tho Great to build his navy . . . .113 

Tho Original House of Petor the Groat m 8t Petersburg . . 123 

Church of the 12th Century 137 

Churtjh of the 12th Contury . . 141 

St George and St Dmitri 157 

Mongol Mask-Visor 185 

Church of tho 13th Century 193 

Double-headed Eagle 209 

Medal struck by Alexander I. in 1812 in commemoration of the deliver- 
ance of Russia from the hosts of Napoleon ..... 219 

Metropolitan of Moscow 241 

Tsar, holding in his hand the four Sceptres representing the four 
Tsardoms of which Muscovy consisted after the conquest of 

Siberia, Kazan, and Astrakhan ....... 253 

One of the Streltzi — the professional armed men of Muscovy . . 269 

Design from a Goblet .......... 281 

Hatchet (17th century) 293 

Bowl of the Tsar Alexei Mikhailovitch 309 

Imperial Bowl used by the Tsar (17th century) 317 

Plan of part of the Zaporogian Settlement on the Dnieper Islands . 333 

Cossack Boat 337 

Cossack Camp 337 

Cross on the Grave of Cossack Leader 353 

Battle-axe (17th century) 381 

Halbert (17th century) 389 


I. Russia in the 9th Century 

II. Russia under the Hegemony of the Principality of Kiev 

III. Russia during the Period of the Minor Principalities 

IV. The Principality of Muscovy 
V. The Tsardom of Muscovy . 

VI. The Empire of Russia .... 

VII. Russia at the Close of the 18th Century 

VIII. Russia after the Congress of Vienna . 












The ignorance of English people as regards Russia is no 
modern peculiarity, but now, in the light of the present-day 
opportunities, it is less justifiable. 

It can hardly be expected of a nation like the EngHsh, 
which has always had free inter- 
course with the outer world, that it 
should realise the possibiUty and 
extent of such an isolation as Russia 
suffered from during the thirteenth 
to the sixteenth century while under 
the Tatar yoke. 

For a nation whose political 
development has been normal and 
continuous, it is difficult fully to 
appreciate the effects on Russia of 
such a calamity as the Mongol in- 
vasion, which completely cut her off 
from Western Europe. 

When in 1375 a map of Europe 
was made for the King of France, Kiev was not even marked 
on it, only Riga, Cracow, Lemberg, and the town of Bolgary 
on the Volga ; the remainder was a blank on which was 
printed the one word " Russia," and this in spite of the 
fact that in very early days there had been frequent inter- 


St George and the Dragon. 
(Silver coin, 10th century.) 


i-oiirsr hclwoon that country and tJio nortli-west of Europe, 
for tlio groat trade route to Byzantium passed through 
south-western Russia. When, however, in 1450 a map was 
made for Venice, the original of wJiich is still in the archives 
of that town, Moscow appeared on it. 

So far as England was concerned, Russia was re- discovered 
in 1 ")53 by '* The Mystery, Company, and Fellowship of Mer- 
chants and Adventurers for the discovery of unknown 
lands," which sent an expedition to the Far North, with the 
object of finding a north-eastern route to China and India. 

Three ships left London under the command of Sir Hugh 
Willougliby, but being unpro\dded with the necessaries for 
an Arctic expedition the gallant explorers succumbed to frost, 
hunger, and disease on the inhospitable shores of Russia. 
Fortunately, the crew of the third ship escaped these dangers, 
but instead of finding a passage to Cliina its captain, Richard 
Chancellor, accidentally discovered Russia. The friendly 
inhabitants of the place, where thirty years later the town of 
Archangel was founded, informed the astonished Englishmen 
that the land was called " Russia," and that it was ruled 
over b}' the Grand Duke of Muscovy. 

True to the British instinct not to let a chance for com- 
merce or colonisation go by, the undaunted explorers went 
on to Moscow, which they described afterwards as equal in 
size to London, but they added that its wooden houses could 
not be compared with those of the English capital. The 
enterprising EngUshmen did not lose an opportunity for 
entering into business relations with this newly discovered 
State. Captain Chancellor presented to the Tsar a document 
which, in the same vague manner as an English passport 
of to-day, recommended the traveller to the kindly favour 
of foreign Governments. 

From that date, 1553, began English trade and inter- 
course with Russia, about which many books were written. In 
1558 Russia was visited by Jenkinson, the tourist par excellence 
of those days, who crossed Russia and entered Persia to 
find a new route to India, and who on his return journey 
was commissioned by the Tsar to convey a special message 
to Queen Elizabeth, " that the Queen's Majestic and he 


might be to all their enemies joined as one, and that England 
and Russland might be in all manners as one." 

A century later, Milton's Brief History of Moscovio, and 
of other less known Countries lying eastward of Russia proved 
that even in his day Russia was still an unknown country 
and quite outside the sphere of European interests. The 
European States simply did not trouble themselves about 
her : she was ignored or looked upon as aHen and unattractive. 
She was considered hardly fit to participate in poHtical 
transactions, and no Power desired her as an ally. From 
neither a military nor a diplomatic point of view was there 
anything to gain. Russia was useful merely on account of 
her products — chiefly grain — or as a market for other nations' 
wares, or else as an overland route to China and India. Even 
Turkey was far better known than Russia, for she represented 
a perpetual menace to Europe, while Muscovy was only de- 
scribed in historical treatises or in grotesque anecdotes. Later 
on she became of interest for the student of ethnography or 
of language. 

As late as the seventeenth century a Russian diplomatic 
agent who was trying to get French doctors for Russia com- 
plained that France thought Russia to be at the other end of 
the world, with India as its next-door neighbour. What a 
prophetic vision ! 

But, on the other hand, Russia was equally ignorant about 
Western Europe ; it was as if she lived behind the Great 
Wall of China. Nor did she show any desire to come into 
vital touch with the rest of Europe ; cut off from the West, 
her face was turned to the East, and the great historical 
events which stirred, uplifted, or convulsed Europe were 
ignored by her. 

The Shah of Persia was a personage of importance to 
whom in the year 1663 presents worth 100,000 and even 
200,000 roubles were sent, while the goodwill of the Emperor 
of Austria was not considered worth more than 1000 roubles. 
The Oriental despotism, as personified in the Sultan and in 
the Shah of Persia, greatly impressed the Tsar, while Ivan 
the Terrible's estimate of Queen Elizabeth was very low when 
he wrote to her : " We had thought that thou wert a ruler, 


posM'ssing <^ro;it power, ami that tlum didst \i|)lu)ld the honour 
of thy position. Imt noic wv understand that in thy State 
otlu>r pooplo rulo ind('p(>ndi'ntly of thoo, and what class 
of peopU' ' .lust common uuMihants ! 

As to th(> Kini: of Sweden, the Tsar wiote to liim that 
"' As the heaven is liigh above the earth, so niueli higher am I 
tlian thou." 

Russia's uncompromising attitude of aloofness towards 
all things \Vest«Mn is amusingly illustrated by the opposition 
evinced by a Russian when, at the instigation of Holland, a 
postal service was introduced in 1663. He writes : " The 
foreigners have made a hole into our country and through it 
they })ry into all our concerns. The post may bring financial 
benefit to the Tsar, but for the country it is bad. Whatever 
happens to us, the foreigners know it at once. I suggest that 
this hole be quickly and securely closed up ; also that all 
travellers should be carefully examined on leaving the countrj^ 
lest they should carry away important information." 

Her political isolation was very convenient to some 
of Russia's neighbours ; it was to their interest to keep 
her on a low level of culture, and, geographically, Poland, 
Lithuania, and the Baltic provinces formed a barrier between 
Russia and the other nations. 

Until 1686 no Russians w^ere permitted to pass through 
Poland ; therefore Archangel was the only outlet, which made 
foreign travel an arduous and dangerous task. To reach 
Italy 7000 miles had to be traversed — that is, a distance equal 
to that between Lisbon and the Great Wall of China. About 
the middle of the sixteenth century, however, the Tsar 
Ivan IV. decided to bring into his country foreigners — pro- 
fessional men, mechanics, and artisans from Germany ; but, 
unfortunately his scheme w^as frustrated and the men pre- 
vented from reaching his dominions. Some of the Western 
Powers began to reaUse the danger of a civihsed Russia, and 
put obstacles in the way of her procuring the necessary 
means for economic progress. The Emperor of Germany, 
Maximihan I., wrote early in the sixteenth century to the 
Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights who ruled over Prussia : 
" Russia's vastness is a danger to us." 


That Russia might really awake one day and take her 
place as a great Power was deemed hardly possible ; yet 
there lurked an uncomfortable feeling in the consciousness 
of her neighbours that should Russia once begin to learn 
from Western Europe she might become a dangerous factor 
in European politics. 

It was only as a military Power which could be usefully 
employed against Turkey that Russia gradually became 
of importance to those of her Western neighbours who 
suffered from the wars and invasions of 
the Moslem Power. In a letter sent 
to the Tsar by the Patriarch of Con- 
stantinople these words occur : " Russia 
slumbers while everyone else is in arms 
against Antichrist. All the pious Chris- 
tians, Bulgars, Moldavians, and WaUachs 
are awaiting thy help. Sleep no longer ; 
arise and deliver us ! " 

In 1676 a Venetian diplomatist calls 
attention to the fact that the Sultan had 
every reason to fear the Tsar of Muscovy, 
as the inhabitants of Bulgaria, Serbia, 
Bosnia, and Morea were of the same faith design of a Cross in 

as the Russians, and might at any moment ™^„ Cathedral of 
1 1 1 «• 1 r^ 1 • 1 1 St Sophia in Kiev. 

be ready to throw off the Turkish yoke (First half of the nth 
and go over to the Russian Tsar. century.) 

The orthodox Slavs of the Balkans did send a cry for 
help to the orthodox Russians, but in those days Russia was 
unable either as a military Power or by diplomacy to fulfil 
their expectations. Yet ten years later the siege of Vienna 
by the Turks caused the allied Powers — the Pope, the 
Emperor of Germany, the King of Poland, and the RepubHc 
of Venice — to invite aU other potentates, " especially the 
two Tsars of Moscow," to join this Christian coaUtion against 
the Moslems. 

In certain quarters the hope was expressed " that 
Russia would pit her unexhausted strength against the 
Crescent and deUver Europe from the ' terrible Turk.' " 
Russia was unable to accomplish this in the eighteenth 


ciMiturv. but it is not improbable that she will succeed in 
the twentieth. 

One of the Tsars mentioned in this official communique was 
Peter (afterwards " The Great "), who a few years later broke 
asunder the shackles wliicli had held Russia in bondage. 

He first, however, went to learn from the West how to 
prepare the tools for this liberation — how to utilise and 
improve the lumbering macliinery which his predecessors 
had gradually built up and accumulated. When he founded 
his capital on the Neva, he not only " opened a window 
towards the West," but broke down the wall which had so 
long separated his country from the rest of Europe ; and 
suddenly Western Europe came to realise that Russia had 
awakened, that the weak principality of Muscovy had entered 
the arena of history as a strong monarchy, claiming equality 
with the rest of the European Powers and the right to make 
her voice heard in the din of European politics. 




To the sympathetic EngUshman whose knowledge of history 
is limited, there is always a puzzhng incongruity between 
the backwardness of the Russian Government and the pro- 
gressive attitude of individual Russians. 

That Russia has been behind the other great Powers 
in very many matters of political and administrative import- 
ance cannot be disputed, but the study of Russian history 
offers a very simple solution to this problem. 

No one will deny the fact that it is impossible to under- 
stand rightly the development of England without taking 
into consideration the Latin colonisation and the intro- 
duction of Christianity from Rome. That England came 
at so early a date into touch with the very centre of European 
culture, and that her rehgious life was influenced by the 
Western Church, had as far-reaching results as had, at a 
later date, the mixing of races and the introduction of another 
civilisation. Nor can the consequences of the Norman Con- 
quest be overlooked — the blending of various nationalities, 
each of which contributed its own genius and thus produced 
the English nation. 

It is quite as impossible to understand Russia and to 
value rightly the place she occupies in the scale of civiUsation 
without first apprehending the fact that Byzantium and not 
ft.ome was the first foreign Power to influence her materially, 
and that civilisation reached the eastern Slavs from the near 
East and not from the West. And secondly, it is imperative 



to realise fully the vital importanoo of the Mongol invasion, 
with its destriu'tive, arresting, and retarding inliuence on the 
country's progress and civilisation. 

If it is England's geographical position as an island 
which has caused her to become a world empire by means 
of oversea colonisation, it is just as much the geographical 
position of Russia which has forced her to expand by means 
of extension, by penetration into and b}^ the absorption of 
those lesser States which stood in the way of her irre- 
sistible progress towards natural boundaries — towards the 
sea and the mountains, or until she comes up against racial 

If Russia has for so long been an unkno^^^l land, and 
if her liistory has for centuries been independent of that 
of other nations, it is again due to her geographical 
position. Her isolation seems natural enough when one 
realises that impenetrable primeval forests and immense 
stretches of marshland separated her from her Western 
neighbours : that, scattered all over those vast lands which 
now form European Russia, tribes of Slavs founded their 
first settlements. 

From earhest days a settled mode of living was character- 
istic of the Slavs. In this they differed from their neighbours, 
the nomadic Petchenegs, Polovtsi, etc., who roamed over the 
Steppes east of the Dnieper. These eastern Slavs, eastern 
in contrast to the southern Slavs (Serbs, Slovacs, etc.) and 
to the western (Prussians, Wends, etc.), gradually inter- 
married \Adth the nomads, even though perpetually at war 
with them. 

The French authority on Russia, Leroy-Beaulieu, con- 
tends that of all Indo-European people the Russians are 
the least Aryan, and that this is due to the admixture of 
Turkish and Finnish elements. Though tliis may be true 
ethnographically, the Slavs, in spite of intermarriage wdth 
these semi-Oriental tribes, became a separate and distinct 
people — the Russians. They absorbed into themelves these 
tribes of other races, but were never absorbed by them. 
The most dominant and virile tribe of the eastern Slavs was 
that of the warrior-like Polyans, who settled on the land 


west of the Dnieper, where the forest-land ended and the 
Steppes began. 

Wherever the Slavs settled they lived in clans or com- 
munities, which in course of time developed into cities. 
These always retained their primitive democratic basis, and 
later on developed into republics. Novgorod and Kiev 
were founded on this principle. Through these two cities, 


Russia in the Ninth Century. 

Scandinavian and Norman merchants and warriors passed on 
their way south, more especially in travelling to Byzantium. 
Tradition records that the Russians sent a message to 
the Varangians, whom they had come to know when the latter 
passed from the North to Byzantium : " Come, rule over us, 
for our country is vast and without any order in it," but it 
is much more likely that they either made a virtue of necessity 
or that these peaceable cities were forced to adopt military 
ohiefs as protectors against external foes. 


In 851 Askold and Dir, two bold Scandinavian warriors, 
had made thtMiiselves niasttirs of Kiev on the Dnieper, whence 
thev made a successful raid on Byzantium. The chief of 
tliese Varangians was Rurik, who had settled in 862 on Lake 
Ladoija. from whence he gradually extended his rule over 
various cities, chief among them Novgorod. After the death 
of his two brothers, who had come with him, and who had 
held sway at Byelo-osero and on the shores of Lake Peipus, 
all Russia came under the rule of his house, and his descend- 
ants were the chiefs of the " town-provinces " of which the 
*■ Ru.>^sian "" lands consisted during the ninth, tenth, and 
eleventh centuries. With their " Drujina," or band of 
warriors, their comrades-in-arms, these military chiefs pro- 
tected the cities against the attacks of the nomad hordes, 
Petchenegs, Polo\i;si, and others, with whom the}^ were 
evidently frequently at variance ; and they made military 
expeditions against Bulgars and Greeks in the name of these 
cities, never in their own. 

The republic of Novgorod was for a long time the principal 
centre, forming a link between the north-west of Europe and 
" Russia," which by the twelfth century had come to represent 
a political unit, the " Russkaya Zemlya " or "Russian Land." 

It was Kiev, however, taken from Askold and Dir by 
Oleg, which gradually gained the ascendancy over all the 
other " town-provinces," and to which was accorded the 
name of " mother of Russian towns." Here the first phases 
of Russian political development were passed through. 

Four of the princes of Kiev left their mark on south- 
western Russia during the first four centuries of Russian 
liistory. The first of these was the valorous Oleg, a true hero, 
of whom the bards sang, whose rule is said to have extended 
from Ladoga to Kiev, and who became renowned for his 
expeditions against Byzantium, on the gates of which he is 
supposed to have hung his shield as a sign of his achievement. 

The second was " Sunny " Vladimir (980-1015), whose 
reign is immortalised in the epics and legends of that heroic 
time. Having accepted Christianity in 988, Vladimir decided 
to make it the national religion, and caused all his people 
to be baptised en masse in the rivers. His choice of the 


Greek form of Christianity was the natural result of trade 
intercourse with Byzantium. The prince having thus 
adopted the Eastern form of worship, Kiev became spiritually 
and intellectually a colony of that great city, and in her turn 
came to occupy a leading position in Russia as a centre of 
culture, in addition to exercising poUtical supremacy over 
other Russian cities. 

During the tenth and eleventh centuries the importance 
of Kiev increased in more than one direction, but it was 
especially as a trading centre that she attracted merchants, 
who came from afar to attend the eight fairs held there 
annually. Greeks, Germans, and Arabs visited her, and in 
their writings give glowing accounts of her twelve market- 
places, her numerous churches, her riches and glory. 

It was during the reign of Yaroslav the Wise (1015-1054) 
that Kiev had her " golden age," when she reached the zenith 
of her power and culture, when her princes attained a higher 
intellectual level than the Russian princes who lived after the 
Mongols had ruined her city in 1240, and, with it, her civilisa- 
tion. It is reported that Yaroslav himself made translations 
from the Greek, and that one of his sons spoke five languages. 
Intercourse with other Powers was uninterrupted and normal : 
Russian princes were mentioned in foreign chronicles as 
having visited Emperors of Germany at Quedhnburg and 
Mainz, and once even the Pope at Rome. Intermarriage also 
brought Kiev into touch with the rest of Europe. Yaroslav's 
four daughters married respectively the Kings of Poland and 
Hungary, Prince Harold of Norway, and Henri I. of France, 
and his grandson, Vladimir Monomach, married Gytha, 
daughter of Harold, the last Saxon King of England. 
Under Yaroslav Russian law was codified and the " Russkaya 
Pravda " compiled, and such interest was taken in literature 
that a public library even was founded. 

It was chiefly by means of the Church that education was 
introduced and fostered, and monasteries became centres of 
learning. Various princes also founded secular schools in 
which the children of the nobles were educated, but always 
according to Byzantian methods. 

This was a period of church-building ; still, one may doubt 


the accuracy i)f a chronicler who states that in llu> ureal tir(> 
of Kiev ill 1071 seven hundred churches wwv dtvstroycd. 
The great Cathedral of St Sophia, nioilelled upon tiie famous 
church of Byzantium, stood in Kiev as a symbol of the fai- 
reaching fact that the Greek faith had become an imjjortaul 
power in deciding the trend of Russia's spiritual, social, and 
political development. Some years before Yaroslav died, Kiev 
escaped destruction at the hands of tlie licrce l*ctcJu>ti(>gs who 
had laid siege to liis capital. In honour of tliis deliveraiKui, 
the Grand Duke dedicated the day of the victory, November 
26th, to his Patron Saint, St George ; and about tliree 
hundred and fifty years later, Dmitri DonsUoi madc^ this 
warrior- martyr the Patron Saint of Moscow. 

The death of Yaroslav inaugurates the dreariest period 
of Russian history (1054-12158): from it dates the d(!cline 
of Kiev's supremacy. In accordance with an ancient Slavonic 
custom, Yaroslav divided his dominiotis amongst, his many 
sons ; but this ill-advised act resulted in the splitting up 
of Russia into a number of minor principalities. As ho to 
whom Kiev was allotted took precedence of all the oth(vr 
princes, the desire to possess that principality 1(h1 to con- 
tinual feuds. Another Slavonic tradition, according to wjiich 
the ruler was succeeded by the eldest male member of his 
family, which might be either his son or his brother, gave 
rise to still further complications. 

The last prince of Kiev whoso influence was paramount, 
and who stands head and shoulders above his contem})orarieH, 
is Vladimir Monomach (1113-1125), a strong and wise ruler, 
whose " Po-outchenie " or " instruction " to his sons is an 
interesting document, giving a vivid impression of his person- 
ality, and contributing valuable information as to ideas, 
conditions, and customs of his day. After his death Kiev 
ceased to play the leading part among Russian cities. 

Dissensions and quarrels among the princes had become 
the rule : there was no harmony, no cohesion, no solidarity 
among the descendants of the house of Rurik. Every now 
and then the idea of securing continuity of government by 
reforming the system of succession was suggestfjd, but it 
was never carried into practice. 



I. PI^:RI0D (802 1155) 

RURIK (862-879). 
OLEO (87!) 912) rnakoH Kiev tho capital. Kirai oxpodiiion agairiHt 

\in)T Rurikovitch (012-945). 
Olga, If^or's widow (94.5 O.'S.'i). 
Svyatoslav I. Igorovitch (95.5-97.'J). 
Varopolk I. SvyatoHlavitoh (97.*} 980). 
VLADJMIIi I. SVYATOSLAVI'I'CH (St Vladimir) (980 lOir,). P,;/,ptiH<;d 988. 

DividoH hiH realm betw.'-n liia twelve hohh and one. n<;plie,w. 
YAROSLAV I. VLADIMIROVrrCH (The Wine) (101.5 10.54). fJivideH his 

realm among hIx HonH and one grandHon. 
Izyaskv I. YaroHlaviteh (10.54-1008). Great Prince of Kiev and Novgorod, 
VHCHlav VHCvolodovitch (1008- J 009). 
Izyaslav II. YaroHlaviteh (J 009 107:i). 
Svyatoslav II. YaroHlavitch (I07:i-I077). 
Vscvolod I. YaroaLavitch (1078-1093). Married to the (laughter of Henry I V., 

Emperor of the Gcrroans. 


Svvatopolk 11. Izv.uslavitoh ( 1093-111:5). 

vf.ADlMlH 11. VSEVOLODOVl rCH (MONOMACH) (1113-1 12-)). Divide; 

liis ix'iilm bt'twtvii hi.'^ spven sous. 
MstLsbv I. Vladimirovitch (1125-1132). 
YjiTDpoIk II. Vladimirovitch (1132-1139). 
Vsevolod II. Ologovitch (1139-1146). 
Igor II. C)li>govitch(lU6). 
Iryiwsliiv II. M.stislavovitch (1146-1154). 
Rostislav Mstislavovitch (1154-1155), 



While internal dissensions were thus disintegrating Kievite 
Russia in the south-west, another Russia was gradually 
developing in the region of the upper Volga. The vast lands 
lying to the north-east of the Dnieper were only sparsely 
populated by Finnish tribes. Love of emigrating and desire 
for pastures new were potent factors in the development of 
this new Russia, and in course of time the " Great Russians " 
as contrasted with the " Little Russians " of the South-west 
were evolved. 

As to the princes who left Kiev to strike out a line for 
themselves, they were prompted to do so not merely from love 
of adventure, but more especially from a desire of freeing them- 
selves from the irksome fetters of the democratic traditions of 
the ancient cities — the rule by " Vetche " or popular council. 

They travelled eastward, traversed the forest, and opened 
up new lands for themselves where they were free to start 
a different regime from that of the old. In this course they 
were supported by the Boyars, the descendants of the warriors, 
who had in earlier days formed the Drujina or warrior band 
which helped the chief to protect the republican cities. These 
knights had, in course of time, grown rich by the spoils of 
war and by trade. Many followed enterprising princes into 
the new countries, or else, later, accepted their invitation 
to join them. The princes had also offered land to peasants, 
and in this way the population of new Russia increased. 

In the earhest days of Russian history the lakes of the 
north-west — Ladoga, Byelo-osero, Peipus, and Ilmen — had 
played an important part, and then the river Dnieper ; it 



was now tlie turn of the Volga to come into prominence. 
Kiev and Novgorod had become commercial centres owing 
to their position on the great " East^^rn Way," the trade 
route between the Baltic Sea and the Euxine (Black Sea). 
Their colonies in the north-east, however, developed perforce 
into agricultural settlements because the estuaries of all the 
great rivers wliich flowed through Russia's immense lands were 
in possession of her enemies, the Turks and the Tatars. In 
fact, the greater part of Russia was so shut ofif from natural 
maritime outlets, and thus separated from the maritime 
markets, that from the twelfth to the eighteenth century 
she could only develop as a purely inland Power. 

The princes who had estabUshed their rule in the upper 
Volga region fully reahsed the importance of the mighty 
river, which vdih its tributaries formed a geographical entity, 
and it was here that new principahties and new towns de- 
veloped, such as Murom, Ryazan, and Suzdal in the twelfth 
century, of which Suzdal, with the town of Vladimir as capital, 
was the most important. 

Vladimir was the favourite place of residence of Andrei 
Bogolj^ubski, Prince of Suzdal (1157-1174), who was also, 
by virtue of seniority. Grand Duke of Kiev ; he, however, 
preferred the city in which he had spent his early days. Here 
he dwelt apart from the strivings and intrigues of his relations, 
and it was during the uneventful years of quiet passed at 
\ladimir that the thought of creating a new State on an 
entirely different basis from that of the old Kievite order 
matured in his mind. It was to be organised on monarchical 
and not on republican lines ; the supreme authority was to 
be vested in the prince alone, and not to be shared by the 
citizens as represented in the Vetche, or council of the people. 
He argued that the land over which he ruled, having been 
colonised through his father's enterprise and his own, ought 
to belong to him, to have and to hold and to leave to whom- 
soever he pleased. He therefore decided to break away from 
the old Slavonic conception of the land as an indi^'isible 
whole, belonging to the whole community, and to the ruler 
only by virtue of his official position ; it was to be his by 
occupation and his successors' by hereditary right. 


Andrei realised that continuity of rule could never be 
secured by succession in order of seniority, as was the custom 
hitherto followed in Kiev, but only by direct inheritance ; 
consequently he refused to subdivide his territory among 
his brothers and nephews in the traditional manner. He 
was supported in his decision by the Boyars and by the Greek 
Orthodox clergy, who had introduced into Russia the Byzan- 
tine conception of rule — that of autocratic authority. 

Andrei Bogolyubski's wisdom in thus departing from the 
old tradition soon become apparent, and Vladimir, his favourite 
city, began to vie with Kiev in importance. It was his 
ambition to secure for her the supremacy hitherto accorded 
to Kiev ; hence his attack on " the ancient mother of Russian 
towns," his robbery of her sacerdotal treasures, which he 
transferred to the cathedral and other churches built by 
him in Vladimir, until his capital rivalled Kiev, the City of 
Churches. The unique position finally held by Vladimir 
amongst other towns her prince occupied among his con- 
temporaries. He pursued a deliberate policy of coercing 
the other principaUties into recognising his assumption of 
authority to accord or refuse recognition of their rulers. 
During his reign many towns were built : amongst others, 
Nijni-Novgorod on the Volga, with which he intended to 
supplant the old city of Novgorod on the Lake Ilmen. 

His enterprising policy attracted colonists, and in the 
end he could say with pride that Suzdal had become a populous 
principality. It was this very success which confirmed him 
in his autocratic proclivities : " I have made it — it is mine," 
was his motto. He is the one strong personality of this 
period : prudent and far-seeing as an organiser, he did great 
credit to the monarchical form of government ; possessed of 
great physical courage, he was vaHant in war. But unfortu- 
nately he was lacking in self-control. He tried to crush the 
princes who refused to recognise him as their sovereign lord ; 
and his arbitrary behaviour towards the Boyars, several of 
whom he banished, and finally his iU-advised action in 
having one of them kiUed, led to his murder by the incensed 

Andrei was the first of a new type of ruler, but it seemed 



as if ho \Mnilcl also bo tho last, for his imniodiate successors 
relapsed into the old ways, and a period of dissension and 
bitter fond followed upon liis death. Gradually the balance 
of ])o\vor booanio equally divided between the princes of 
Kiev and those of Suzdal, but by the thirteenth century, 
\'ladiniir, which had become a principality, had usurped the 
})osition of Kiev, now one of the least important of the 

Russia was weakened by being cut up into minor princi- 
palities or appanages. The conception of Russia as a whole 
and of the integrity of her land was for the moment lost 
sight of ; patriotism died out and particularism took its place. 
The rule of these appanage princes was individualistic, each 
man for himself, personal interest playing a more important 
role than national welfare. 

This period presents the sad spectacle of a whole country 
at variance, rent by intestine strife for some three hundred 
years. Not only were there feuds among the rulers, between 
uncles and nephews, but wars between the older towns and 
the new ones, and bitter strife between class and class, every 
man's hand being against his neighbour's. During these 
centuries Russia consisted of sixty-four principalities, over 
which two hundred and ninety-three princes ruled. The land 
was divided and subdivided ; it was either given away in 
grants or bequeathed in legacies. All this tended to break 
up the greater principalities, to dissipate their power, and 
to accentuate the individualism of the princes, many of 
whom were gradually reduced from the position of territorial 
lords to that of mere landowners. 

The chronicler of this distressful period saw in it a struggle 
between the old and new Russia, and between the old and 
new conceptions of government with regard to the position 
of the prince. In Kiev the authority of the prince had 
rested on the fact that he was first and foremost the guardian 
of the town-provinces against their external foes ; his role 
was that of the servant of the people, while the princes of the 
new Russia worked for their own personal aggrandisement. 
It is to this altered attitude of the ruler that the chronicler 
attributes the decUne of national prosperity ; he writes : 


" The men of Novgorod, Smolensk, Kiev, Polotsk, and all 
the other chief towns of the provinces are wont to assemble 
themselves to take counsel in their Vetche, and by that which 
the chief towns decide the lesser towns abide ; but here in 
our chief towns of Rostov and Suzdal the Boyars have 
attempted to establish their own law rather than fulfil the 
law of God, sajdng : ' As it shall please us, so will we do, 
seeing that Vladimir is our subject town,' " 

Three methods of land tenure, common to the new Russia, 
formed the basis on which the social structure was built. 
First there were the princely domains, worked for the sole 
benefit of the prince and his household by slaves — captives 
of war — and in some cases by free peasants, who paid tithes 
in produce. Secondly there was leasehold land, let out to 
individual peasants or peasant communities, who paid rent 
to the prince or the city which owned the land. In the case 
of such a city as Novgorod the Great, whose sway extended 
practically over all northern Russia right up to the White 
Sea and as far as the Ural Mountains, the whole of the 
country was simply spoken of as Peasant-land. Last, but 
not least, there was the Boyar land, which was under private 
ownership , either lay or clerical. In the early days of colonisa- 
tion, adventurous and enterprising Boyars had penetrated 
into the country and made it their own, and so had the Church, 
whose lands were rich and extensive ; but when these regions 
became principaUties, the original colonisers, or their de- 
scendants, were still left in possession of the land they had 
previously acquired. 

From the twelfth to the fifteenth century there were only 
two kinds of free people. The first were the Boyars, or nobility, 
who, although they stood in a kind of feudal relationship 
to the prince, were nevertheless not his vassals, but could 
take service under whomsoever they pleased. It was not 
until the fifteenth century that the Muscovite Tsars made a 
definite attempt to introduce vassalage, being supported by 
the Church, which admonished the Boyars to remain in the 
service of their territorial prince. The second class of free 
people were tenants, both rural and urban, who paid rent but 
were not tied by any contract, and who were therefore free 


to iiuno a\\ay at any time. In the agreement made with the 
ruler this was spocilically stated m the following terms : 
" Tho Rovars and the servitors who dwell among us shall be 
at liberty to come and go." Tims gradually social conditions 
were regulated : the aristocracy consisted of Boyars and 
princely retainers ; next in rank came the upper strata of 
the civic population of the great towns. 

There was a great deal of variety and complexity in the 
judicial and administrative organisation of the various prin- 
cipalities. The old cities had their own firmly established 
liberties and privileges, while the newer towns became directly 
dependent on the princes. The appanage sj^stem, Avith its 
parcelUng-out process, ultimately resulted in the impover- 
ishment of many princes, who found it difficult to keep up 
their estabhshments, and were thus forced to spend their 
hves at the court of their more influential relations, the 
rulers of large principahties. Later on, however, many came 
to reaUse the economic value of land, which, if it was to be 
systematically cultivated, required a settled rural population ; 
and in order to obtain this, the liberty of movement hitherto 
enjoyed by the peasants was curtailed. Owing to these 
conditions, land -ownership came to play an important part, 
not only in the economic, but also in the political develop- 
ment of Russia. 

The higher clergy found it to their interest to support 
the princes of Vladimir, and although Andrei Bogolyubski 
failed in his attempt to transfer the MetropoHtan See from 
Kiev to his own capital, this was ultimately accompUshed 
some fifty years later. 

One of Andrei's successors, Vsevolod III., though Grand 
Prince of Kiev, chose hke him to reside in Vladimir and not 
in the city of which he was suzeram : he had a strong objec- 
tion to the independent attitude of the Kievite people, who 
resented being treated as heirlooms ; and while this once 
famous city was losing its influence and power, Vladimir was 
gaining in ascendancy. A period of progress and prosperity 
followed : more churches and monasteries were built, educa- 
tion furthered and spread, the population increased, and 
colonisation penetrated further east, where the scattered 


native tribes, unable to resist the advancing Russians, either 
withdrew across the Volga or became absorbed by the new- 

In the thirteenth century the development of Russia 
was arrested and her civihsation in the south-west completely 
extinguished by the pressure brought to bear upon it by the 
Mongol invasion. Were it not for the recent destruction 
wrought in Belgium by the German army, it might be 
difficult to imagine a whole country utterly devastated, cities 
sacked and burnt, and the surviving population fleeing in 
terror before the approaching enemy. 

Wliat Germany has done to Belgium in 1914, the hordes 
of Ghenghiz Khan, Emperor of Moguls and Tatars, did to 
Russia in the thirteenth century. It was said that he de- 
stroyed five milhon human beings on his march through 
Asia. His army consisted of barbaric shepherd warriors, 
who, under the leadership of his son, Juji Khan, invaded 
Russia and destroyed many cities, thus conquering the 
Caucasus. Like a spring tide the Tatar hordes flowed over 
Russia. The Russians first fought in 1238 with these bar- 
barians near Lake Azov, whence the great wave of in- 
vasion receded. The terror-stricken people asked in utter 
amazement, " Whence came these terrible strangers and 
whither have they gone ? God only knows — and those who 
can read books." But all even the erudite knew was that 
the Mongols came from the Amur, conquered China, and 
overran Persia, Bokhara, and Samarkand. 

Two years after the first invasion they returned and 
penetrated as far as the Dnieper. Then followed a lull of 
thirteen years until once again, like a hurricane, the Mongol 
hordes swept over Russia. 

The first invasion may have been merely a predatory 
expedition, but the second was destined to result in complete 
conquest. Terror and devastation followed in the wake of 
the invading hordes : ravaged cities, tortured people, skulls 
and skeletons, marked their passage through the land. 
Nothing could withstand their huge army, mounted on horses 
and camels ; before their irresistible battering-rams towns 
fell after only a few days' resistance — some even at once. 


Fourtoon cities were thus destroj'ed on the westward route. 
Tho ^roat Khan had allowed himself eighteen years for 
tile eonijuest of all Europe, but at the battle of Liegnitz 
in 1271 liis armies were beaten and the tide of con(}uest 
j^temmed, Poland acting as a breakwater for Western Europe 
which was thus saved all the misery, desolation, and de- 
i^radation which Russia had to endure for the next two 



There were various reasons, internal as well as external, 
to account for Russia's falling a prey to the Mongols. To 
begin with, from the ninth to the thirteenth century Kievite 
Russia suffered from the close proximity of the Asiatic tribes 
wlio swarmed over the vast steppes east of the Dnieper. 
Vladimir Monomach (1114-1125) mentions in his last will 
that he had made peace nineteen times with the princes of 
the Polovtsi, one of these tribes. The Christian Russians 
did not often attack them — when they did, the war was of the 
nature of a crusade — usually they had to be on the defensive. 
At times, however, the Russian princes even used them as 
allies against their own kith and kin. Perpetual feuds existed 
between the various descendants of Rurik, and, although 
occasionally some individual prince suggested combining 
against the invaders, such advice was never followed. This 
lack of unity in resisting the onslaught of the Mongol hordes 
proved the undoing of Russia. Calls for help from en- 
dangered princes were not heeded by the others, and gradu- 
ally, one by one, the Russian principalities were either 
devastated like Kiev or else became tributary to the Mongol 

Added to this lack of unity and cohesion, there was the 
isolation in which Russia found herself. She had not kept 
pace ^\ith Occidental nations built on the Roman model 
and under Roman influence ; also the level of Russian 
civilisation was lower than that of her Western neighbours, 
from whom she was separated by tracts of impenetrable 
forests or marshland. 

Consequently, when the great catastrophe happened, 
inward dissension and political isolation caused Russia to 
succumb, and she became simply a vassal of the Mongol ruler. 


The European States took no notice of the terrible calamity 
which befell her in the thirteenth century. Only the Popes of 
Rome occasionally showed some interest — perhaps less from 
a genuine wish to rescue a Christian State from Moslem rule, 
than from a desire to spread Roman CathoHcism. 

In 1240 Kiev, the " mother of Russian towns," was 
utterly destroyed, and for fifty years history is silent con- 


cerning the fate of this once famous city. Novgorod escaped 
the Tatar invasion, but a few years later she too had to 
pay tribute to the Mongol Khan. Having subdued and 
ruined certain parts of Russia, and having made other parts 
tributary, the Khan Batu returned eastwards as far as the 
Volga, where he founded his capital, Sarai, from which city 
the Golden Horde, as this new power called itself, managed 
the affairs of Russia. 

After the destruction of Kiev this unhappy principality 


was totally lut dlT from tiie west of Europe and its civilising 
intlueneos. and the corrupting influences of the Orient began 
to permeate every sphere of life. All that had been built 
up during past centuries was destroyed, and under the iron 
3'oke of the Oriental Power progress was arrested and further 
development retarded. 

Russia was almost depopulated by the victorious Khans, 
and of those who escaped death hundreds and thousands 
were led away into captivity. Such vast numbers of Russian 
slaves were sold in all parts of Asia and Turkey that a Russian 
was scoffingly asked by a Turk " whether there were any 
people left in Russia ? " 

During those dreary years of the thirteenth century the 
strong personahty of Alexander Nevski, Prince of Novgorod, 
and later on also of Moscow (1240-1263), stands out vividly 
from amongst the nonentities who had been subjugated by 
the Khan. His memory is still cherished by the nation on 
account of his success in stemming the tide of an invasion 
which was threatening Russia on the north and west : on 
the north by the Swedes, who had extended their dominions 
to the very shores of Lake Ladoga and to the borders of 
Novgorod ; and on the west by the Teutonic Knights and 
the Knights of the Sword. The former were conquering the 
western Slavs and were penetrating eastward, and the latter 
had already subdued the Livonians on the shores of the Baltic. 
Alexander Nevski defeated first the Swedes in the battle 
of the Neva in 1240, and then, two years later, the German 
Knights, who had taken possession of Pskov, in a battle 
known as " The Blood Bath on the Ice." These two victories 
had a far-reaching influence on the history of Russia, one 
result being that from this time forward the Popes of Rome 
no longer encouraged the Knights to make crusades against 
the Greek Orthodox Russians, but, on the contrary, Pope 
Gregory IX. did his best to win the allegiance of Alexander 
to the Roman See by making him an offer of secular 
benefits, which was not accepted. 

Although Alexander was so successful against the Euro- 
pean foe, he perceived the futiUty of offering armed re- 
sistance to the Asiatic hordes, realising that voluntary 


subjection was the only way of escaping annihilation. By 
this policy he saved the new Russia from the fate which 
had befallen the Principality of Kiev. Seeing that the 
Tatars ruthlessly crushed opposition but showed clemency 
towards those who submitted unconditionally, he aimed at 
establishing such peaceful relations with the Khan as would 
secure him recognition. Consequently, when the Khan sent 
him a message to say that, if he wished to retain possession 
of his patrimony, he was to appear before him, Alexander 
wisely obeyed. 

The Khan, to whom his fame was not unknown, soon 
perceived that this Russian prince was in every way, intel- 
lectually as well as politically, the superior of his contem- 
poraries. As, however, Alexander's loyalty had not yet 
been proved, the Khan did not bestow upon him the suzer- 
ainty of Vladimir, which at that time held the first place 
amongst Russian principalities, but gave him instead the 
ruined Kiev. Two years later, after his second visit to the 
Khan, Alexander was, however, also accorded the dignity of 
Grand Duke of Vladimir. His visits to the Golden Horde 
gave him an insight into the mind and manners of the Mongol 
conquerors. He felt that the only thing to do was to study 
their methods and ideals, i.e. absolute surrender to the 
leader, a losing of the individual in the whole, and stoical 
power of endurance. In all this the Tatars differed from the 
Russians, whose love of liberty and individualism had degen- 
erated into anarchy, and had thus led to the splitting up 
of the nation into separate political units. If they wished to 
maintain their national existence, the Russians obviously 
had to learn how to adapt themselves to the new conditions, 
and this they did until the princes became past masters in 
the art of serviUty. 

The precedent created by Alexander Nevski when he 
visited the Court at Sarai became established : every senior 
prince had to appear in person before the Khan in order to 
obtain recognition, and even then he had to bribe and to 
curry favour. It seemed as though all pride and manliness 
had been exterminated for ever ; no one appeared to resent 
the humiliating dependence upon the Tatar Khan, and his 


claim of power over life and death was never even called in 
question. Anion*; tlie Russian princes who had to appear 
before his tribunal, more than one lost his life under tlie axe 
of the Tatar executioner. The new Russia of the north- 
east, split up into a multiplicity of minor principalities, 
proved herself excellent material for the process of Tatarisa- 
tion which was begun by the first Khan and carried on too 
successfully for the next two centuries by later rulers of the 
Golden Horde. 

The Rulers of Muscovy, which had sunk into the position 
of a mere vassal State of the Mongol Empire, gradually 
raised themselves to a supremacy over the other Russian 
princes, making use of the feuds and the corresponding loss 
of power entailed by the appanage system. That such a 
situation was possible is explained bj^ the fact that the 
Muscovite princes were specially favoured by the Mongol 

Certain of the Rulers of Muscovy, whose aim it had been 
to consolidate disunited Russia under one central power — 
their own — found poAverful supporters in the High Eccle- 
siastics. Owing to their greater culture, and also to the fact 
that in those days Russians of noble birth became priests, 
the influence of the clergy increased. When in 1326 the 
MetropoUtan eventually transferred his See from Vladimir 
to Moscow, the interests of the State and the Church became 
identical. Musco\ate princes and Metropolitans co-operated 
in their efiforts to create internal order out of the prevailing 
anarchy due to the system of appanages, and to mitigate the 
evils which arose from the Tatar domination. 

Strange to say, although Russia was treated as a Tatar 
province, the invaders did not in any way interfere with 
the religious life of its people. The Khan even favoured 
the Church, granting it many privileges ; monasteries were 
exempted from taxation, and consequently flourished — 
indeed, many Russians became monks in order to avoid 
financial pressure. The clergy enjoyed special protection ; 
to attack or rob a priest, or even to use abusive language to 
him, was declared a capital offence. Some high ecclesiastics 
were held in great esteem among the Golden Horde, and 


were at times able to intercede for their flocks and to mitigate 
their sufferings. In this course, tolerance was blended with 
indifference, an attitude kept up later, even after the Tatars 
had become Mohammedans. Christians might live in the close 
entourage of the Khan, carrying on their religious life freely. 
There is a faint suspicion that policy dictated this benevolent 
attitude towards the Church as a method of keeping the 
princes in subjection and promoting a docile attitude, for 
jealousies and intrigues between State and Church were of 
advantage to the alien rulers. 

Russia thus became merely a province of the great 
Mongol Empire and under the direct rule of the Khan 
whose administration was a strange admixture of political 
calculation and financial organisation. Side by side with de- 
struction, robbery, and spoil there was a well-regulated system 
of taxation with all its network of agents. The worst phases 
of this rule were during the second half of the thirteenth 
century and during the fourteenth, when the people suffered 
terribly from the exactions of ruthless and barbaric tax- 
collectors. If unable to pay the taxes, which were levied in 
kind on the products of the country (especially furs), the 
people were made slaves. 

At last, after many risings against the cruel oppressor, a 
new system was introduced. The taxes were farmed out to 
the Russian princes, who thus received a recognised position 
and also came into direct administrative relation with the 
Khans ; although, as intermediaries between the supreme 
ruler at Sarai and the populace, the princes were occasionally 
able to stay the hand of the Khan, and thus to reheve the 
misery of their people. 

There is a great difference in character between the 
princes of the old Russia in the south-west and those in the 
north-east of the new Russia : while the former, chivalrous 
and courteous, joyous and adventurous, were certainly more 
attractive personahties from the human point of view, the 
latter, cool and calculating, were decidedly greater statesmen, 
consistent in carrying through a mapped-out policy which 
aimed at a more independent, more autocratic rule. If 
the great princes of the early Kievite period were knights, 


thoso of Suzdal and Moscow were business iiioii with eminent 
financial capacity, who made profit out of the feuds of their 
rivals, and who quietly annexed lands or bought up the 
t<?rritories of impecunious princes. They are known to 
Russian history as " collectors," and it was by means of this 
very " collecting " that their power and possessions increased 
to such an extent. They also enriched themselves by collect- 
ing even as much as double the amount of taxes due to the 
Khan in order to feather their own nests. The most noted 
of these princes was Ivan, nicknamed " Kalita " or " Purse " 
(1328-1340), a ruler notorious for his greed and utter lack 
of principle. 

It is impossible for a foreign Power, such as the Tatars, 
to rule over a country for centuries without leaving a deep 
impression on the life and conditions of the subject race, and 
the corrupt rule of the Mongols has unfortunately left an 
indelible mark on Russia. The Muscovite princes learned 
their lesson only too well in that Eastern school : morahty 
sank to a low level, and the brutality, administrative corrup- 
tion, spying in vogue amongst their Oriental masters w^ere 
faithfully copied by the Russian princes, who, forced to cringe 
before the Khans, made their own people in their turn cringe 
before them. 

Perhaps the most typical example of this degrading 
dependence on the part of the Muscovite princes is Simeon 
the Proud (1340-1353), who travelled five times to Sarai, 
each time returning laden with rich presents. Bribery 
became the acknowledged means of gaining recognition ; 
those princes who were most subservient to the Golden 
Horde, and who knew best how to curry favour, increased 
in power over their rivals. Intercourse with the Golden 
Horde became so intimate that there were even cases 
of intermarriage. Some few princes, it is true, resented 
this humiliation, but they were helpless against their oppres- 
sors. They were always at variance with one another, and, 
worst of all, actually employed Tatars as soldiers when fight- 
ing each other. The chronicles tell this unhappy tale with 
painful monotony : Tatar attacks take place, no organised 
resistance is offered, jealousy and quarrels between the princes 


are rife, the decision as to supremacy among them falls into 
the hands of the Khans. 

Acquiescence in the degrading conditions imposed by the 
conquerors was utterly demoralising. There was great 
danger of the Mongol yoke being accepted as inevitable and 
final. The Russians were not only likely to remain at the 
low level to which they had sunk, but to sink even deeper. 

The Church was helpless to change the moral conditions : 
the entire life of social Russia had become Tatarised and 
was full of brutality and licentiousness. The Hberty enjoyed 
by women in former days was transformed into a state of 
Oriental dependence with all its degradation. Women of the 
upper classes had to spend their hves in the seclusion of the 
" terem," the Russian equivalent of the harem, thus being 
deprived of all opportunities for mental development and 
healthy intercourse with the opposite sex. 

The brutahsation of the common people found its typical 
expression in the development of the system of servitude 
and in the inhuman manner in which taxes were collected, 
causing suffering to the whole nation. In true Oriental 
fashion, insolvent taxpayers were even subjected to torture, 
and methods still practised remind one of this evil period of 
Russian history. 

The Mongol domination was perhaps felt least acutely in 
Muscovy, yet it was here that the first attempts to overthrow 
it were made, and at last, in the fourteenth century, a prince 
arose who showed invincible determination to shake off the 
Tatar yoke. This was Dmitri, the Grand Duke of Muscovy. 
He realised the advantage which Russia might reap from the 
weakening and disintegration that were gradually breaking 
up the Golden Horde in consequence of internal divisions — 
the whole gigantic empire of the Mongols was crumbhng 
away — and the possibility of independence for Russia thus 
came within the range of practical politics. 

The rivals of Muscovy in the principalities of Ryazan 
and Tver, whose princes resented the rise and increase of her 
power, were laying plans to crush her ambitious princes with 
the aid of the Tatars. Dmitri was aware of this, and when 
he further heard a rumour of the Khan's intention to exter- 


minate Christianity in Russia he realised that for Muscovy 
it was " now or never." He knew that he could rely upon 
the assistance of the clergy, who were preaching a crusade 
against tlie intidel Tatar, and also upon the support of all 
the other Russian princes except those of Ryazan and Tver. 
With these supporters at his back he was able to face the 
Tatars, and at the battle of the Kulikovo Field on the Don, 
in 1380, a terrible conflict took place — more terrible, says 
the chronicler, than any Russia had ever witnessed. The 
battle line extended for nearly ten miles, and the field was 
covered with a seething mass of fighting men. When some 
of the Russians, who had never fought before, fled panic- 
stricken before their enemies, the Russian cause — the cause 
of liberty — seemed lost, but help arrived. Just at the 
moment when things seemed at their worst, some of the 
picked regiments which had not 3^et taken part in the fight 
were sent into action, attacking the pursuing Tatars in the 
rear. Finding themselves caught in a trap, it was then 
the turn of the Tatars to flee, and after a general rout of the 
enemy the Russians were able to claim the greatest victory 
of their history. 

Two years later the Khan returned to the attack, and, 
by means of a ruse, took Moscow, which Dmitri had entrusted 
to the care of the Metropolitan, who, however, fled at the 
approach of the enemy. The Tatars entered the Kremlin, 
killed 24,000 people — in fact, everyone they found, — pillaged 
and sacked the town, and then withdrew. When Dmitri 
Donskoi came back he found his ruined city filled with 
corpses and not a man left to bury them ; but gradually 
the citizens of Moscow, who had fled at the approach of the 
enemy, returned. The prince passed a severe judgment on 
the Metropolitan for his cowardice ; he banished him and 
elected a candidate of his own choice, whom he sent to 
Byzantium for consecration. This was the first time in 
Russian history that a prince had assumed the right of 
interfering in ecclesiastical affairs. Dmitri Donskoi was 
also the first Grand Duke of Moscow to assume absolute 
superiority over the other princes. 

In order to fill his empty coffers he attacked Novgorod, 


upon which he levied a heavy war-tax, making that proud 
republic tributary to Moscow. Although he held his own 
people in awe, and terrorised enemies by aggressive display 
of power, yet contemporaries recognised and ungrudgingly 
admitted his political wisdom, which, however, did not avail 
to change permanently the political conditions. Still, it is 
from his time — from that great battle on the Don which 
gave him the name of " Donskoi " — that the Tatar rule 
began to slacken. Unfortunately, his reign coincided with 
a period of national calamity, during which ravages by the 
Tatars, internecine warfare, pestilence and plague, drought 
and famine, all had their share in depopulating north-eastern 

During the reigns of Dmitri's successors the power of the 
Muscovite princes increased still more, until, finally, the 
direct descendants of Alexander Nevski became the recog- 
nised heads over all the others, and the centre of their 
dominion was Moscow, which two and a half centuries 
earher had been merely the summer residence of Prince Yuri 
Dolgorouki, around which he made a wooden enclosure 
which formed the nucleus of the future great KremHn. So 
smaU and insignificant were the beginnings of Moscow, 
that the power eventually attained caused amazement in 
later generations. This wonder and surprise are quaintly 
expressed in a Russian tale of the seventeenth century 
which begins : " What man could have thought or divined 
that Moscow would one day become a kingdom ? Or what 
man could ever have foreseen that Moscow would be accounted 
an Empire ? . . ." 


II. PERIOD (1155-14()2) 

YURI VLADIMIROVITCH (1155-1157) of Suzdal. 

Kiev U)sos the supremacy and Vladimir becomes tlic capital 
during the reign of 


Mikhail Yurievitch (1174-1176). 

Vsevolod III. Yurievitch (1176-1212). 

Yuri II. Vsevolodovitch (1212-1216). 

(Constantin Vsevolodovitch (1216-1219)). 

Yuri Vsevolodovitch (1219-1238). 

Yaroslav II. Vsevolodovitch (1238-1246). 

(Kiev sacked by Mongols, 1240.) (Vladimir sacked by 
Mongols, 1238.) Khan of the Golden Horde : 

Svyatoslav III. Vsevolodovitch (1246-1248). 

Andrei Yaroslavovitch (1248-1255). 

(St Alexander Nevski) (1255-1263). Recognised by Kian 
GRAND DUKE OF RUSSIA. Khan bestows upon him 
the Principalitjr of Kiev and later also of Vladimir. 

Yaroslav III, Yaroslavovitch (1263-1272). 

VassiU Yaroslavovitch (1272-1276). 

Dmitri Alexandrovitch (1276-1294). 

Andrei II. Alexandrovitch (1294-1304). 

Mikhail II. Yaroslavovitch (St Michael) (1304-1319). 

Yuri Danilovitch (1319-1322), Prince of Moscow. 

Dmitri II. Mikhailovitch (1322-1326). 

Alexander Mikhailovitch (1326-1328). 

Ivan I. DanHovitch (Kalita) (1328-1340). 

Simeon Ivano\ntch (The Proud) (1340-1353). 

Ivan II. Ivanovitch (1353-1359). 

Interregnum (1359-1361) : the Khan appoints the great-grand- 
son of Yaroslav the Wise, Dmitri Constantinovitch 

DMITRI IV. IVANOVITCH (Donskoi) (1363-1389). 

Vassili I. Dmitrievitch (1389-1425). 

Vassili II. VassiUevitch (The Blmd) (1425-1462). 

Svyatoslav Yaroslavovitch, Grand Duke of Kiev, and his Family. 
A copy of the title page of a collection of Manuscripts, A.D. J 073. 



A WHOLE century lies between Dmitri Donskoi's victory 
over the Tatars and Russia's final liberation from their 
galHng yoke. Moscow had become the leading city and 
Muscovy a sovereign principaUty. She stood right in the 
centre of the Russian lands, with a powerful enemy on either 
side, each claiming authority over one-half of Russia. In 
the west it was Lithuania, and in the east it was the Tatar, 
The rule of the Golden Horde was nearing its doom. Tamer- 
lane, with his hordes, swept down to chastise the Khans for 
their attempts to make themselves independent of the 
central power in Asia. According to the chronicler, " Tamer- 
lane gave them to the winds of desolation," and, incidentally, 
the Russians might have shared their fate. 

In the year 1380 Tamerlane marched against Moscow, 
where the uttermost despair prevailed, the Lithuanian army 
also threatening on the west. However, like Novgorod a 
century and a half earlier, the city was spared destruction 
by the Mongols. The believing Russians regarded Tamer- 
lane's sudden decision to return to Asia as a direct answer 
to prayer. The dehverance was complete ; for the two in- 
vading armies of Muscovy's enemies fought each other and 
Tamerlane was victorious, weakening Lithuania so that 
she was unable for some time to renew her attacks upon 

Those who suffered most from Tamerlane's invasion were 
the Tatars of the Golden Horde ; their cities were devastated 
and they themselves robbed of their dearly bought riches. 
The empire they had established by means of the sword 
was now crumbling away. It is true that the Russian 

33 3 


priiu'os still cDntiiiuod for another sixty years to receive 
recognition of their status as rulers from the Khan at Sarai, 
hut oiH'asion;il ;itt<Mii])ts were made to evade the conditions 
imposed by the Tatar overlord. 

In course of time the principle of hereditary succession 
liad come to be firmly established. The hegemony of 
Muscovy and the sovereignt}' of lier princes were not dis- 
puted by the people, and only in a very few instances by 
the other princes and republics ; amongst the princes it was 
the Ruler of the Tver who stood out longest, and amongst 
the cities Novgorod and Pskov. Their turn for absorption 
came in the sixteenth century. 

With Ivan III. (1462-1505) a new era of rule was in- 
augurated — the era of despotism and the rise of autocracy. 
Clever, calculating, cautious, unscrupulous, hiding his real 
intentions under a mask of plausibility and legahty, he 
gradually caught all the flies in his web, and succeeded in 
turning his subjects into slavish dependants. He waged 
bitter warfare against his rival at Tver, and also against 
Novgorod and Pskov. Novgorod, the once famous and 
prosperous city, was devastated and ruined, 27,000 of her 
inhabitants were killed and three hundred of her leading 
citizens transported to Moscow and obliged to settle there. 
Ivan closed the warehouses and offices of the Hanseatic 
merchants, and put forty-nine of these German merchants 
into prison, where they were incarcerated for three years, 
during which time deputations from German}?^ and Livonia 
appealed in vain to the Muscovite ruler on their behalf. 

This important trading centre — the commercial link with 
Western Europe — was thus ruined and destroyed, and 
Muscovy deprived of the valuable commercial asset and the 
invaluable civihsing influence of the city. Novgorod the 
Great, robbed of her treasures, her splendid buildings de- 
stroyed, her inhabitants killed or carried away, sank to the 
level of an insignificant provincial town, from which she has 
never again risen. 

Ivan's most powerful enemy, however, was Lithuania, ^ 
under whose jurisdiction Kiev, Smolensk, and other ancient 
1 See Chapter XXV., " Poland." 



Russian provinces had developed upon normal lines. These 
had gained by their union with Lithuania, for Western 
culture was made accessible to them through Poland, with 
which kingdom Lithuania had amalgamated, and which 
stood on the same cultural level as the rest of Western 

Aiter Ivan had, by fair means and foul, gathered into 

B{irtholom«w. £clin 

Thk Principality of Mu.scovy, 

his own hand all Russian lands, a new political situation 
arose. So long as Muscovy had been separated by independ- 
ent Russian principahties from Lithuania, Sweden, and the 
Baltic provinces, there had been no necessity for diplomatic 
relations with foreign Powers. For the rest of Europe, 
Muscovy did not exist ; all that was dimly known of her was, 
that east of Lithuania lay a country ruled over by Tatars, 
though inhabited by a Slavonic people ; and it was not until 
the time of Ivan III, that an Austrian embassj' — which. 


howt'vor. eanie to naught — was sent to Russia to arrange 
a marriage between the Emperor's nephew and a daughter of 
the Tsar. 

For political reasons Ivan married one of his daughters 
to Alexander, Prince of Lithuania, who later on became King 
of Poland. Ivan's interference on behalf of liis daughter, on 
the plea that the promises made with regard to her liberty 
of faith were not being fulfilled, caused perpetual friction 
between him and his son-in-law. There exist pathetic 
letters from the unhappy Queen of Poland to her father, 
the Tsar of jMuscovy, in which she bitterly complains of his 
actions and of his unpaternal behaviour. She accuses him of 
sacrificing her happiness to his ambitions, and pleads with 
him not to make war against her husband's kingdom. She 
tells him that all her unhappiness is due to him and not to 
her husband and his people, and that the whole nation is 
hating her on account of her father. 

Ever ready to find a pretext for making war and for self- 
aggrandisement, Ivan defeated his son-in-law and took from 
Lithuania several provinces which had originally formed part 
of Kievite Russia. When the Polish king sued for peace, 
Ivan's reply was, that unless Kiev and Smolensk were also 
handed over, there could be no talk of peace, for his ambition 
now was to unite under his own rule all the territory 
ever held in possession by Russian princes. This demand 
was a characteristic sign of the times : once more there was 
to be a common Fatherland, and, forgotten though this 
idea had been during the period of feuds and of subjection 
to a foreign yoke, it now revived. The wars fought in 
common against Tatars and Lithuanians had created an 
atmosphere of brotherhood which had been lacking for 

Ivan's attempt at consolidation led to internal union, and 
gradually the Tsar came to be invested with a new^ dignity : 
he became a national Tsar, and not only by courtesy 
" Hospodar of all Russias," which title he assumed. When, 
therefore, the Emperor of Germany offered to bestow upon 
him the title of King, the Tsar refused with dignity, saying : 
" We, by the Grace of God, have been Emperor of our land 


from the beginning, and do hold our commission from 
God Himself." The answer was full of significance as 
proof of the new basis upon which he laid claim to 
autocratic power. 

Ivan's successful reign, the very vastness of his dominions, 
and his powerful personaHty attracted Boyars from other 
principaUties, and even before Tver and Ryazan had been 
officially incorporated into Muscovy their Boyars were 
already attending the Tsar's Court. Later on, these same 
Boyars deepl}^ resented the innovations introduced into 
Moscow by the Tsar's second wife. 

After the death of his first wife it was suggested to Ivan 
by a Greek who lived at his Court, that he should marry 
Sophia Paleologos, niece and heiress of the last Greek Emperor, 
who, after the conquest of Byzantium by the Turks in 1453, 
had lost his crown and had finally taken refuge in Italy. 
The Princess was then living under the care of a Greek cardinal 
at Rome. In spite of the fallen fortunes of her house, it 
was still a desirable match, and therefore the Tsar sent an 
envoy to Rome, where the matter was satisfactorily arranged. 
The Princess, who had refused union with a Roman Catholic 
prince, expressed her wilhngness to marry the Greek Orthodox 
Tsar, and with her entry into Moscow a new influence began 
to make itself felt. 

The new Tsaritsa Sophia, a clever, witty, and cultured 
woman, brought in her train Greeks and Italians, who intro- 
duced into Muscovy culture and art, but also their own ways 
of thinking and acting, and herein lurked a danger which 
soon became apparent. Not merely did the Byzantine code 
of etiquette supplant the old Russian customs, but the evils 
and intrigues of the corrupt Byzantine Court life found 
entrance. The Boyars resented these innovations, and ob- 
jected to the new class of courtiers at the Muscovite Court. 

The Tsaritsa's personal influence, however, was not 
pernicious, and she supported her husband in all his ambi- 
tions, instigating him to cast off the humihating Tatar yoke. 
She, the Imperial Princess, objected to her husband's position 
as vassal to the Khan. Heiress to the Byzantine Empire, she 
cherished an ambition to elevate her husband to her own 


oxaltoil j)t)sitioii, and it was she who made him put in a claim 
as heir to the Greek throne. Ivan III. was the first to make 
use, occasionally, of the title of Tsar, the Slavonic form of 
Caesar, and to make the Byzantine emblem of the double- 
headed eagle his Imperial crest. This assumption of being 
the sole representative of the Byzantine Empire carried ^vith 
it the claim to be the head of all Greek Orthodox believers. 
All this added to the power and dignity of the Tsar, who 
never lost sight of his aim to become an autocratic ruler in 
the twofold sense of unhmited power over his own subjects 
and complete independence of all foreign Powers. 

After the Khanates of Kazan, Astrakhan, and the Crimea 
had broken away from their allegiance to the Golden Horde, 
the Muscovite princes began seriously to consider the possi- 
bility of gaining their Uberty, If independent Tatar States 
could come into existence, why not independent Muscovy ? 

During the reign of Ivan III. (1462-1505) specially energetic 
measures were taken to throw off the galling Mongol yoke ; 
but this end was not finally achieved until 1480, when an 
event happened which is probably unique in history : two 
contending forces — Russian and Tatar — which had been lying 
in wait for each other for weeks on opposite sides of a river, 
were simultaneously stricken with panic and fled ^vithout 
striking a blow ; and from that date Russia was free and 
Muscovy an independent and sovereign State. Ivan's Asiatic 
despotism, however, not only struck terror into the hearts 
of his dependants, but prevented foreigners from coming 
into Russia ; thus the urgently required leaven of West- 
em civiUsation and commercial enterprise was artificially 

The Tsar's arbitrary conduct created a fatal precedent, and 
influenced for centuries the Russian attitude towards Imperial 
power ; instead of a sane and wholesome respect for the 
Government as the lawful authority, a morbid, slavish fear 
of power as such became the rule. His arbitrary behaviour 
and fickleness showed itself in the frequent changes he made 
with regard to the succession, which had become a very acute 
question. His eldest son had died and Ivan's grandson was 
the rightful heir ; his .second wife, however, intrigued to secure 


the crown for her own. son. When remonstrated with by the 
Boyars for his treatment of his grandson, whom he alternately 
appointed joint ruler or flung into prison, according to the 
family influence which swayed him at the moment, the 
despot replied : "I wiU give Russia to whom I think proper." 
His last wiU and testament was an important document in 
which the pohtical privileges of the Tsar as suzerain over all 
the other Russian princes were clearly defined : for the future 
all power was to be vested in his hand alone. 

Ivan regulated the condition of the peasants, curtaiUng 
their rights more and more ; but he introduced a more 
equitable system of taxation. He also collected the laws 
and had them codified, he limited the power of the Boyars 
over their followers, and did his best to change the position 
of the free and independent Boyars to one of servitude. 
He tried to settle once for aU the vexed question of priority 
amongst the princes and also amongst the Boyars of Muscovy, 
whose numbers had been swelled by the infiux from other 
principalities. This he did by reducing aU to the same level 
of complete subservience to himself — service was to be 
rendered to him alone. 

After a long reign of forty-three years this powerful 
Tsar died. He had achieved his aim, his ambition was 
fulfilled : Russia was a consolidated nation under a central 
authority. Muscovy had become the first Power, the other 
principalities had been absorbed into it, his territory had 
been greatly enlarged and four million inhabitants had been 
added to the original population of his realm. He had suc- 
ceeded in establishing a certain amount of order in the land ; 
administration and therebj^ the chances for civiHsation had 
been placed on a firmer basis, but his despotism had reduced 
the people to a state of abject submission. Politically, 
Muscovy had gained in dignity, she had been liberated 
from the Eastern yoke and had proved herself victorious 
in battle against her Western foes. Ivan's claim to be the 
heir of the Byzantine Emperors, and thus the sole protector 
and head of all Orthodox Slavs, enhanced the position of 
the Tsar in the eyes of the Slavs of the Balkan States. He 
ruled his people with a rod of iron, and well earned the 


name of '* Ivan the Severe " ; some even called him " Ivan 
the Great," but this is a title one is loth to accord to a ruler 
lacking in the quality of moral greatness. 

After Ivan III.'s death, his son VassiU, III. (1505-1533), 
succeeded him, and reigned for twenty-eight uneventful 
years. What the father had introduced and estabhshed, 
the sou carried on : he enlarged his territory by annexing 
other Russian lands, and sliowed himself, in the war against 
Pskov, an important commercial centre, as ruthless as his 
father, the town being as utterly ruined as Novgorod had 
been by his predecessor. The people of Muscovy had become 
so deeply imbued with the spirit of submission to despotic 
rule that the Austrian Ambassador, who visited Russia at 
this period, was justified in reporting that for the people 
" the ^vill of the Tsar is the will of God, and of the will of 
God the Tsar is the fulfiller." 

The glory of having " discovered " Muscovy belongs to 
Herberstein, the Austrian Ambassador, the " Columbus " of 
Russia, who had been sent on a mission to the Tsar in regard 
to the Turkish peril which was threatening Europe. Herber- 
stein, who spoke Slavonic, was able to converse with the 
Tsar, and his knowledge of the language enabled him to study 
the Russian chronicles, which revealed to him the past of 
this hitherto unknowTi country. On his return to Austria 
he wrote a book on Russia which was translated into several 
languages, and suppHed Western Europe with much valuable 
and true, but also at times startling, information about the 
newly discovered Muscovy. 

It is unfortunate for Russia, however, that her first 
diplomatic relations with a European State should have been 
entered into at a period when she had become thoroughly 
Tatarised and brutaUsed. The Austrian Ambassador's 
report was not favourable enough to incUne any one of the 
Powers to seek a poHtical aUiance with so barbaric a State. 
In a letter to the Emperor of Germany the King of Poland 
^\Tote : " We (the Poles) shall on no account grant the 
Russians a passage through our country. It is important to 
prevent their reaching the sea-coast, because the Muscovites, 
Uke all barbaric people, think only of loot and devasta- 


tion and are always a danger to the Christian nations ; but 
should they find a way to the sea, they will become still 
more dangerous." 

After the death of the Tsar, his widow, the Tsaritsa, was 
proclaimed Regent for her son Ivan, later on known as " The 
Terrible " (1533-1588). The administration of the country 
was to be carried on by the Council of the Boyars ; but, as a 
matter of fact, it was the Tsaritsa's lover who ruled in her 
name, with such diplomatic skill and discretion that his power 
and influence increased. She, however, surpassed in cruelty 
anything that had ever been known before in Moscow, thus 
earning the name of " Helen the 
Terrible," and the people spoke of 
her as " That drinker of blood." She 
was poisoned by her enemies, while 
her lover was left to die of starvation 
in prison. 

During the next four years of the 
Tsar's minority, intrigue followed in- ^^p of vTI^^M^nomach, 
trigue, and, although the heads of the with which the Tsars 
two opposing factions of Boyars were ^^JZ'r.oT^. T^S 
capable men, the country suffered. of Ivan the Terrible, 
Meanwhile the young Tsar was wi^s:nt'in'988\rvtlr^i?jfrfn^ 

neglected and left to his own de- Sl^r'ia1e^o7heTis\ero7tTe'Erir^? 

vices; he soon reahsed that as a o^sy^^"""™) 
human being, as a child, he was of no importance, that 
neither his wishes nor his feelings were ever considered. The 
leading Boyar, Shuiski, separated him from his beloved nurse 
and, later on, from his young friend Voronzov, whose rise to 
power was feared by the ruHng Boyars, who was therefore 
taken prisoner in Ivan's presence, and who, but for the boy 
Tsar's bitter weeping, would have been kiUed. Deprived of 
every lawful outlet, kept like a prisoner by his Boyars, 
the lad noticed that aU they did was done in his name 
and ostensibly by his authority, and gradually he came 
to reaHse that it was in the title of Tsar that the power 
was vested. Sensitive, nervous, and highly imaginative, 
he brooded over the contradictions in his position, and 
decided to become a ruler whom no one would be able to 


limit or oppose. All the evil propensities of his nature were 
given free course. 

With adolescence, his untamed, ^^olent, and licentious 
nature became apparent. Having hberty to do as he liked, he 
passed his time either in visiting monasteries and shrines or in 
riotous living with his companions. His alternately religious 
and licentious hfe kept the people in terror-stricken suspense, 
as no one knew what a change of mood might lead to. 

like all other Musco\ate princes, Ivan had been taught 
to read from the psalter and breviaries, but his keen mind 
did not rest satisfied with the prescribed portions — he began 
to read the whole Bible and, later on, the Fathers also, and 
other translations from the Greek, so that for his time he 
was exceptionally well read. He searched out of the Old 
Testament the texts dealing with regal power and obedience 
to authority, till his mind was filled with the %'ision of himself 
as the chosen representative of all power. 

\Mien seventeen years old, Ivan had himself crowned 
Tsar. He was the first to assume this title definitely, and 
from this time on Muscovy was no longer reckoned as a 
Principality but as a Tsardom. This was the first coronation 
in Muscovy ; the crown used on this occasion was the cap 
of Ivan's ancestor Vladimir Monomach (1113-1175), the last 
great personahty of Kievite Russia. Tradition, not founded 
on fact, says that this cap had been sent by the Greek 
Emperor Constantine Monomachus to his grandson, who was 
crowned with it by the Metropolitan of Ephesus. It was 
further reported that the Kievite prince had bequeathed it 
to his son Yuri Dolgorouki, the founder of Moscow, with 
instructions that it should not be used until such time as 
God should send a worthy monarch to Russia. 

In order to increase further the authority and status of 
the dynasty a new genealogy had to be drawTi up : it was 
alleged that Rurik, the first ruler of Russia, had been a 
direct descendant of a mythical brother of Csesar Augustus, 
supposed to have settled in Lithuania. All these unfounded 
traditions and legends had been collected and were made 
use of %^dth the sanction of the Metropohtan Makarius, and 
thus the Church supported and lent colour to the fictitious 


claim of the Tsars to be heirs to the supremacy of Imperial 

Just after the coronation of Ivan IV., Moscow was nearly- 
destroyed by a great fire. It was a terrible calamity : seven- 
teen hundred adults alone were burned and the population 
rendered homeless. Riots became frequent. A rumour was 
started by enemies of the ruling cHque that the relations 
of the deceased Tsaritsa, the Ghnskys, had caused the fire 
by witchcraft. The exasperated people beheved this, and 
all members, and even dependants, of this family were 
massacred. Not satisfied with preventing the escape of 
any of the supposed sorcerers, the infuriated populace 
marched towards the palace of the Tsar on the Sparrowhills 
to demand from him the surrender of the Princess Anna 
Glinsky and her son. 

It was a crucial moment in the Tsar's life. Hitherto he 
had been fully convinced of his own omnipotence, but now 
he felt himself helpless and unable to face the rioters. Over- 
come by fear, he accepted the advice of the priest Sylvester, 
who at that very moment appeared suddenly before Ivan, 
declaring that the riot was the result of the misery he had 
caused to his people, and was a judgment of heaven on all his 
wickedness. Terror-stricken, the Tsar promised to respect 
and to follow his admonisher in all things. 

A few shots from the guards, by Sylvester's order, dis- 
persed the crowd, and the Tsar was relieved from fear. Grate- 
ful for his deUverance, he appointed Sylvester to be his 
spiritual monitor and guide, and this priest, together with 
Ivan's friend, Adashev, for a time gained complete ascendancy. 
These new advisers were wise men, who let the Tsar imagine 
that all the good and constructive work done by them was due 
to his own initiative, and for a period of nine years Muscovy 
breathed freely. Ivan's wife also had a good influence over 
him, as he loved her devotedly, and the depression which had 
brooded over his earlier years began to pass off. 

Sylvester and Adashev, who were truly good and honest 
statesmen, formed a Council of picked men, chosen not only 
from amongst the Boyars, but also from amongst the upper 
strata of tlie civic population. Occasionally the Council 


(.•allcHl iipDii tho whole nation to send up representatives : 
tlu" Duma thus formed was the first of its kind, being not 
local, like the ancient Vetche, but imperial. 

This Zemsky Sobor, or Territorial Council, and later on 
also an Ecclesiastical Council, did excellent work. Matters 
of juridical, administrative, and religious importance were 
discussed and eventually reorganised ; some useful reforms 
were introduced, and the laws concerning every sphere of 
domestic and ci^^c life were revised. The tangible results 
of all this beneficent activity were the compilation of 
" The Legal Constitution " and " The Hundred Chapters " — a 
collection of ecclesiastical laws. 

Sylvester, who came from Novgorod, where civic life was 
highly organised, kept the example of that republic in his mind. 
His " Domostroi," or " Rules for the Household," prove that 
he was deeply in earnest in his endeavour to draw Russian 
society out of the morass into which Tatar influence and 
despotism had drawn it. 

Of Adashev, Kourbski, the contemporary historian, 
wrote : " That it would be impossible adequately to describe 
him — no one would give credence to such a description ; but 
he could safely say that this man was like an angel among the 
Tsar's coarse and brutish companions." 

The Tsar Ivan's advisers did not limit their activities to 
domestic affairs : their most important and far-reaching 
success was the final conquest of the Khanate of Kazan in 
1552, which added considerably to Russian territory and 
to Russian influence over the various tribes of south-eastern 
Europe. In order to Christianise the new Moslem subjects, 
and at the same time to extend and confirm Russian influence, 
churches and monasteries were built and a bishopric was 
founded at Kazan (1563). 

A few 3^ears later Astrakhan was also conquered, and 
thus the entrance to the Caspian was secured, the whole 
course of the Volga now running through Russian territory. 

Sylvester and Adashev realised what an urgent need there 
was for Russia to come into touch with Western Europe, to 
learn from foreign nations things of which Russians were 
ignorant. For this purpose a Saxon named Schlitt was 


authorised in 1577 to procure artists, artisans, physicians, 
chemists, printers, etc., in the Tsar's name. This emissary 
succeeded in finding one hundred and twenty-three such men 
wiUing to take the risk of going into wild and barbaric Muscovy. 
The plan, however, was frustrated owing to the jealousy of 
the senators of Liibeck, who, in conjunction with the 
Livonian Knights, resented the idea of Russian progress. 
Schlitt was thrown into prison in Liibeck and his band 
of pioneers of Western culture scattered. But despite all 
that Germans did to keep Russia isolated, the hour had 
come for Muscovy to be brought into touch with Europe, 
and Englishmen were the agents by which this momentous 
change was brought about. 

In 1553, Richard Chancellor, the master of a vessel, the 
Edoardo Bonaventura, bound on a voyage of discovery of a 
northern passage to China and India, landed on the coast of 
the White Sea. The natives of these parts, who had never 
seen a big vessel before, were terror-stricken until the gallant 
captain succeeded in reassuring them, whereupon they proved 
themselves most friendly. A message was sent to the Tsar 
to inform him of the arrival of the strangers. Ivan evinced 
a keen interest in the travellers, and sent them a cordial 
invitation to visit him in Moscow, even going so far as to 
offer to bear the expense of the journey. 

Chancellor, however, getting impatient, had set oG on his 
own account, and on the road he met the emissaries of the Tsar, 
who returned with him to Moscow. He had been furnished 
by his King, Edward VI., with a letter of recommendation to 
the ruler of any country he might happen to traverse. The 
reception afforded him by the Tsar surpassed all his expecta- 
tions : he was granted not only an interview, but permission 
to trade with the monarch's subjects. The EngHshmen were 
delighted with the prospect of commercial enterprise opened 
up before them. They began to look upon Muscovy as a 
second America, and the " discovery of Russia," with all its 
possibilities, portended great things for the future. A 
" Company for trading with Muscovy, Persia, and Northern 
Lands " was founded. The " Russia Company," as it came to 
be called, was properly constituted and invested with rights 


and juiWleges ; it was also permitted to buy land annually 
for a sum not exceeding £()0. 

In 1555 Captain Chancellor revisited Moscow, but this 
time as an accredited British envoy : he succeeded in secur- 
ing a charter for the company, which was also granted the 
monopoly of all wholesale and retail imports, and permission 
was given to build British factories at Cholmogori and 
\'ologda. The Tsar even presented the company with a 
house and land in Moscow, and there, as elsewhere in the 
factories belonging to the English, they were under their own 
jurisdiction and exempt from Russian law. 

On his return journey Chancellor was accompanied by a 
Russian envoy. Unfortunately, the gallant Englishman 
lost liis life in a shipwreck off the coast of Scotland, but the 
Tsar's ambassador was saved and succeeded in reaching 
London. From this time forward, intercourse was established 
between England and Russia, and English vessels annually 
visited the estuary of the river Dvina, where, thirty years 
after the landing of the Edoardo Bonaventura, the town of 
Archangel was founded as a result of the increasing number 
of colonists who had settled there. The monopoly obtained 
by the English traders gave them a very unfair advantage 
over the Russian merchants, the benefits of the treaties being 
on the EngUsh side. These special privileges were largely 
due to the influence exercised over the Tsar by Jenkinson, 
the indefatigable traveller and explorer of Asia. The 
excellent relations between England and Russia became 
strained later on, owing to Queen Elizabeth's refusal to 
enter into an alliance ^vith the Tsar against Sweden, 
Poland, and Turkey. Another cause of estrangement was 
Ivan's suggestion that he and the Queen should agree to 
offer each other an asylum in case of need ; this did not 
appeal to the Queen at all, although the idea of a refuge 
in England, away from his truculent Boyars, may have 
greatly comforted the heart of the Tsar. There was yet 
another grievance against Elizabeth : he had sued for the 
hand of Mary Hastings, the Queen's cousin ; but although 
the young lady may at first have felt flattered at the prospect 
of becoming Tsaritsa of Russia, later on, when she heard a 


detailed description of her wooer's character, she drew back. 
The Tsar had to console himself elsewhere until he exceeded 
Henry VIII. by one in the number of his wives. 

The whole country gained by the rule of Sylvester, but 
the Tsar began to be restive under the restrictions imposed 
upon him. Hitherto his fear of Sylvester and his attachment 
to Adashev had sufficed to keep these two in their position 
of authority. The crisis came after a serious illness, during 
which Ivan commanded the Boyars to swear allegiance to 
his infant son ; but the Boyars refused, preferring to uphold 
the claim of the Tsar's cousin, as they knew only too well 
to what endless strife and intrigues a regency would lead. 

Ivan did not die, and after his recovery he decided to 
break away from tutelage. To all appearance he had forgiven 
the Boyars their refusal, but the moment for freeing himself 
from all restraint had come. The just but strict rule of Sylvester 
had caused many of the Boyars to hate him : his enemies 
succeeded in convincing the Tsar that Sylvester had by 
sorcery caused the death of his beloved wife, and at their 
instigation he was cited to appear before an ecclesiastical 
court. Ever since 1559 there had been an estrangement 
between the Tsar and his spiritual adviser, who was now 
fetched from the monastery to which he had withdrawn. 
The Council found him guilty and condemned him to banish- 
ment in the most northern monastery, that of Solovietsk on 
the White Sea. Sylvester in his fall drew Adashev after 
him, the latter being put into prison, where he died of fever 
and thus mercifully escaped a violent death. 

Now that the Tsar had shaken o£F the restraining in- 
fluence of his advisers, his mental and moral depravity had 
full play. The psychology of this Tsar is full of subtlety, 
and a simple verdict of insanity hardly covers his terrible 
deeds ; for underlying all there seems to be the struggle for 
a principle — for his conception of sovereignty. His notion 
of the rulership clashed with that of the Boyars, who, accord- 
ing to ancient Russian custom, claimed the right to share 
the government with him, while he called them slaves and 
claimed the right to dispense altogether with their co-opera- 
tion. Finally a poUtical impasse was reached, and the Tsar, 


unable to evolve a new and modified scheme of government, 
derided to rid himself once for all of the Boyars. 

He left Moscow surreptitiously, pretending to abdicate, 
and his departure threw the city into a state of confusion. 
From the village of Alexandrovo he sent two proclamations 
in which he explained his reasons for " going to reside wherever 
God would call him," these were the behaviour of the 
Boyars and the support given to them by the priests. He 
put the Boyars under his imperial ban, while he assured the 
merchants and other taxpayers of his goodwill. The various 
estates sent deputations to the Tsar to plead with him to 
return ; the people offered to hunt dow^n the traitors, and 
even the Boyars and priests came in person to protest their 

Finall}' Ivan IV. agreed to return, but on his own con- 
ditions : these were extremel}^ stringent, and gave him the 
right to banish and put to death any Boyar he chose, and to 
sequestrate the property for himself. He thus practically 
instituted a dictatorship. He also estabhshed a new Court 
and created a new class of courtiers. Of the worst of the 
Boyars, and out of the dregs of society, he formed his band 
of secret police, the Opritchnina, which scoured the country 
for traitors. Suspicion of treason was an obsession with 
Ivan, and thousands of innocent people were sacrificed in 
consequence — even nims amongst them. The Tsar personally 
sent lists of his victims to monasteries, requesting prayers 
for the repose of their souls, to pay for which he sent sums 
of money. He kept a diary in which he noted down the 
names of those whom he killed wdth his own hand. His 
mania for giving orders to have people beheaded can only 
be compared to that of the Queen in Alice in Wonderland. 

A new system of government was now instituted for a 
period of seven years, and two Russias existed side by side : 
one, the Zemstchina, was ruled over by the Council of the 
Boyars, with the Kremlin as headquarters ; the other, the 
Opritchnina, was under the absolute control of the Tsar, 
who had taken up his residence in Alexandrovo with his new 
courtiers and bodyguard, the Opritchniki, who eventually 
numbered six thousand men. 


This division of Russia's territory into the Zemstchina and 
the Opritchnina was carried out on arbitrary lines, and in one 
part of Moscow alone twelve thousand officials and citizens 
were deprived of their property, which was taken over by the 
creatures of the Tsar, the dispossessed owners being forced to 
travel on foot to distant parts of the country as colonists. 

The Ufe of the new Court was fashioned on monastic Hnes : 
the Tsar himself sang in the choir, read the offices in the 
chapel, and prostrated himself on the stone floor to such an 
extent that his forehead was covered with bruises. When he 
had satisfied the rehgious side of his nature, he plunged into 
the other extreme — licentiousness and cruelty ; at such 
times it was his keenest dehght to watch the anguish of his 
tortured victims. The only man who dared to withstand 
him was the newly elected MetropoUtan, Phihp, Abbot of 
the Solovietsk Monastery, whose manly and hol}^ personahty 
stands out all the more brightly on account of the background 
of flattering, insincere, and self-seeldng priests. The Tsar 
met his master in this high ecclesiastic, a man remarkable 
for his purity of motive, his uncompromising severity and 
indomitable courage. But, finally, even this man was 
crushed by the tyrant ; he was accused of defalcation and 
of wizardry, false witnesses being easily procured. He was 
banished to an ecclesiastical penitentiary, where he was left 
to die of starvation. 

The Tsar's love of carnage was illustrated in the way he 
carried on warfare against Novgorod, Pskov, and the Baltic 
provinces. But even while this sanguinary conquest was 
carried out and he was revelhng in bloodshed and cruelty, 
he still found time to occupy himself with foreign politics. 
Poland specially claimed his attention. After the death of 
the last of the Jagiellons,i a deputation invited Ivan's son to 
become King of Poland. The Tsar refused to accede to this 
request, but offered himself instead as candidate for the 
throne. He told the Poles that all the causes for war would 
be removed if Poland, Lithuania, and Russia were united 
with Moscow. So they would, from his point of view ; but 
the Poles declined this offer with justifiable alacrity, 

1 See Chapter XXV., " Poland." 



War broke out in consequence, and matters became 
especially acuta in the reign of the capable and chivalrous 
Stephan Bathory, who had meanwhile been elected l^ng of 
Poland, and who had actuall}^ suggested a duel between 
liimself and the Tsar as the best means of settling the vexed 
question. Ivan, however, dechned the honour. 

Ivan the Terrible found himself at last compelled to 
request the intervention of the Pope, who readily accepted 
the role of intermediary in the hope of gaining the Tsar's 
allegiance to the Roman Church. The Papal ambassador, 
the Jesuit Posse \in, \isited Moscow, and showed plainly 
that he had only the interests of Rome at heart, not those of 
Muscovy or even Poland, although he favoured the latter as 
a Roman Catholic country. The result of this intervention 
was the conclusion of a truce for a period of ten years, each 
party surrendering part of the territories annexed at various 
times : this meant for Ivan that he had to give up the idea 
of reaching the Baltic. 

The Tsar, absolutely unchecked by any restraining influ- 
ence, surrendered himself more and more to his orgies of 
blood, till one day in a fit of ungovernable fury he slew his 
eldest son with his own hand. This act caused him bitter 
remorse, and he would have suffered still more had he known 
that by it he had extinguished his dynasty. 

The remaining years of his life were a monotonous repeti- 
tion of deeds of violence, alternating wdth pilgrimages to 
monasteries and shrines. His love for theological argument 
in his letters to his former friend Kourbski, who had taken 
refuge in Poland, give an insight into the Tsar's large store 
of undigested knowledge. They abound in briUiant ideas 
and clever arguments, interspersed with absolutely absurd 
statements, the utter lack of balance in his character manifest- 
ing itself in his Hterary effusions. 

Although during the last years of his Ufe the Tsar indulged 
less in wholesale slaughter, the death of this " reUgious 
monster," as he has been aptly described, was a real deUver- 
ance for Russia. The historian Klyuchevski endeavours to 
explain the phenomenon of the Tsar's reign by " moral 
iastabihty." He says that " his alternation of lofty mental 


flights with shameful moral degradation helps to throw a light 
upon Ivan's policy of State. Although he accompUshed 
and designed much that was good, wise, and even great, yet 
the terrible deeds perpetrated by him have made him an 
object of horror and aversion, not only to his own but also 
to subsequent generations." 

The net result of Ivan's reign is clear. By his terribly 
inhuman methods of putting down treason he only created 
anarchy, for he struck out indiscriminately, Uke a bhnd man, 
in his fury. He succeeded in creating a new aristocracy 
consisting of mihtary officials and of courtiers who were of 
his own making ; and thus beside the old noble famihes, 
whose genealogies dated back to the early days of Russian 
history, a new class of aristocrats developed. In spite of 
his declared hatred of the Boyars, he could not dispense 
with them ; hence the dual rule of Russia during this period 
of history. 

The beneficent reforms of Sylvester and Adashev are 
reckoned as righteousness to Ivan, and also their far-seeing 
policy of colonisation, which was furthered by every means — 
even by compulsion. 

The conquest of the whole of the Volga region and of 
Siberia (by the Cossack Yermack) had brought vast territories 
under Russian rule, and this gave the Tsar the right to call 
himself not only Tsar of Muscovy, but also Tsar of Kazan, 
Astrakhan, and Siberia as the lawful successor of their 
conquered rulers. From a commercial and economic point 
of view the Tsar's readiness to welcome foreigners, both 
Enghsh and Dutch, had far-reaching results ; it also taught 
the Russians the importance of the Dvina as an outlet into 
the White Sea, the town of Archangel being founded in 1583. 

By the time of Ivan the Terrible's death in 1584, autocracy 
and despotism had been raised to a pinnacle on which his 
immediate successors did their best to keep it. 

After Ivan's death, his son Feodor (1584-1598), who was 
feeble both in mind and body, ascended the throne, but 
although nominally Ruler of All the Russias, it was his 
brother-in-law, Boris Godounov, who governed in his name. 
The weak-minded but harmless youth, whose incUnation was 


to play at roligion, and whose principal amusement was to 
ring tlie olunx'h bolls, was only too glad to leave all his re- 
sponsibilities in the hands of his capable brother-m-law. That 
Boris Godoimov, a man of Tatar origin, a companion of the 
Tsar Ivan, and 3-et one who never took part in liis infamous 
amusements, was nevertheless trusted by the tyrant, speaks 
well for his diplomatic tact. He was appointed by Ivan 
the Terrible to be one of the four councillors who after his 
death were to assist his son in governing Muscovy. 

This clever, capable, and gifted minister ruled Russia with 
\\'isdom and discretion, gaining considerably in prestige by 
his foreign pohcy. During the fourteen years of his deputed 
power the country enjoyed a period of rest and calm, during 
which the wounds of the nation began to heal. His enormous 
wealth enabled Boris to dispense charity on a lavish scale, 
especially during a terrible famine which killed off hundreds 
of thousands of people. So great was this calamity, that all 
the efforts of the ruler could not prevent cannibaHsm from 
spreading to a frightful extent, but his noble conduct and 
paternal care of his people during this period of stress caused 
them to bestow upon him the name of " Father." This 
otherwise fine character, however, was marred by the canker 
of ambition, in order to satisfy which he misused his admini- 
strative powers. 

The economic conditions of the vast Empire were com- 
plicated by sparsity of population : land was of little value 
without labourers to work it. The demand was much greater 
than the supply, which was still further diminished by the 
peasants' habit of migrating to pastures new, especially to the 
south ; and the landowners thus found themselves left in 
the lurch. The position of the peasant had hitherto been 
one of negative Hberty : no one interfered with him, and 
he was free, if not satisfied wdth master or land, to move 
on. Once a year, on St George's Day, he could move to 
whatever place seemed to promise him a greater reward for 
his toil. Slavery did exist, but it was limited to prisoners 
of war. 

As Boris Godounov could not reckon on the support of the 
great Boyars in his ambitious schemes, he did his best to win 


over the lesser nobles, who were the chief sufferers from the 
lack of labour. In 1597 he issued an ukase by which the 
peasants were tied down to the land, and in this way many 
millions of hitherto free people were changed into serfs. From 
a pecuniary point of view this law was a gain to the land- 
owners, who were now given the right to pursue and fetch 
back their fugitive serfs. Thousands of these fled to the 
Cossacks 1 on the Don, thus artificially increasing the tur- 
bulent, restless element in the land. 

After the downfall of the Mongol Empire, Cossacks had 
settled on that river, whence they set out to fight against 
isolated tribes of Tatars ; and there, as formerly on the 
Dnieper, runaway serfs, outlaws, and adventurers found 
refuge. The community thus formed came to be recognised 
by the Tsars as valuable frontier guards. The innate tendency 
of the Russian peasant to migrate to any part where free land 
is to be had has made him at all times a good colonist. 

Cossackdom represented a distinct conception of freedom, 
of the warrior life ; it had become a national institution, 
and at various outposts of the Muscovite Empire such warrior 
communities sprang up or were purposely organised by the 
State as colonising agents. The similarity of pohtical and 
economic conditions all over Russia fostered this peculiar 
movement. Parties of Cossacks settled on the Ural River, 
whence later on some of them were transplanted by the 
Russian Government to the Kuban, there to act as a mihtary 

Although Boris achieved his aim of winning the gratitude 
and thereby securing the adherence of the lesser nobility, 
still between him and his authority stood a young life — that 
of the infant brother of the Tsar. After the death of Ivan 
the Terrible, Boris Godounov had banished the seventh wife 
of the late Tsar, with her infant son, to Uglitch, a small town 
at some distance from Moscow. Some years later that city 
was startled by the news that the Tsarevitch, by that time 
a lad eight years old, had died, and the rumour quickly 
spread that he had been murdered. Although overcome 
with grief, Tsar Feodor took no measures to find out the 
^ See Chapter XXIIT., " Don Cossacks." 


truth of the report, simply accepting Boris Godounov's state- 
ment that the cliild had died of injuries received during an 
attack of epilepsy. 

For tlie sake of appearances a commission of inquirj'^ 
was instituted by the powerful minister himself. That the 
verdict of death b}'^ accident should be confirmed was a fore- 
gone conclusion, as the members of the commission were in 
his pay. Ostensibly to punish the culpable negligence of the 
Tsarevitch's entourage, but in reahty to get rid of anyone 
who could reveal the truth, Boris had almost all the in- 
habitants of Uglitch massacred or sent into exile. 

Seven years after the murder of the Tsarevitch the Tsar 
Feodor died, and \vith him the line of Rurik became extinct. 

The Tsabdom of Muscovy. 


III. PERIOD (1462-1689) 


^ . /Tvan III. Vassilievitch (the Great) (1462-1505) marries niece of last 
° m Greek Emperor. Moscow the capital. First Hospodar of all 
.2 o i Russia. 

S" Vassili III. Ivanovitch (1505-1533). 
(^ [ivan IV. Vassilievitch (the Terrible) (1533-1584). 
Feodor Ivanovitch (1584-15'98). 





The Tsar Feodor died without having made a will. He left 
the future of his realm " to the will of God." His widow 
was at once proclaimed Tsaritsa and allegiance was sworn 
to her, in spite of her honestly meant refusal to succeed her 
husband on the throne. Ultimately, she gave in, but on 
c ondition t,ha,t her brother, Bfiris Godounoy , should continue 
to rule on her behalf as he had ^one on behalf of her late 

Husband. She then entered a convent. Meanwhile, Boris 
having ~ also retired to the same place, the government 
was carried on by the Council of Boyars in the name of 
this nun. 

Three times did the Patriarch offer the crown to Boris 
Godounov, but he always refused it, as it was his ambition 
to be chosen by the nation and not by his creature the 
Patriarch. Some nine j^ears previously, in 1589, the Tsar 
Feodor had succeeded in persuading the Patriarch of Con- 
stantinople, who was idsiting Moscow to collect money, to 
consecrate the Metropohtan of Moscow as Patriarch. Up 
to that time there had been two Metropolitans in Russia — the 
one at Kiev, owing allegiance to Poland, and the other at 
Moscow, under the Patriarch of Constantinople, who himself 
was subject to the Sultan. This ecclesiastic, at the time of 
his visit, was a fugitive, and the wealth of Moscow inclined 
him to accede to the Tsar's request to confer on the Metro- 
pohtan of Moscow the dignity of the Patriarchate. 

The man chosen for this honour was in the pay of Boris 
Godounov, and, as it was he who suggested offering the crown 




to his patron, it is not surprising that the Boyars were loth 
to acknowledge their debt of gratitude, and gave only a 
half-hearted support to his candidature. In consequence of 
his persistent refusal to accept the crown, the National Council 
was called and, owing to pressure brought to bear on its 

Jewelled Saddle of Boris Godounov (1598-1605). 

members and bribery by the Imperial nun, Boris was elected 
Tsar of All the Russias. 

If the new Tsar had been born to his position, his person- 
ahty, his great gifts and administrative powers, would have 
made him a first-rate ruler ; but the crime upon which his 
assumption of power had been based influenced all his future 
actions : fear of the Boyars, fear of the relations of the 
murdered Tsarevitch and his mother, turned Boris Godounov 


into a despot. Although liis tyranny did not make itself 
gononilly felt, and was not so sanguinary as that of Ivan the 
Terrible, it was quite bad enough. The Boyars in general 
and the family of the late Tsarevitch's mother — tlie Romanoffs 
— in particular, to their undoing, felt his iron grip. Exile 
and torture were freely used for the crushing of any possible 
rivals, and a system of espionage was introduced. 

For fourteen years Boris Godounov reigned in Moscow, 
seven years as Regent and seven as Tsar (1598-1605). His 
mental qualities fitted him to govern, and his decided pre- 
dilection for Western culture had a beneficent influence on 
barbaric Russia. Political sagacity made him seek an 
alliance with Austria and caused him to suggest the Tsar 
Feodor as candidate for the vacant throne of Poland, but, 
as before, Poland refused the honour of such close union with 

It was during this period that a French vessel visited 
^r?hangel_J pr the first time, an event which led to direct 
diplomatic relations with IVance. Foreigners — English, 
Dutch, and German — were welcomed ; but, although Boris 
favoured the English, it was the Dutch who succeeded 
later on in gaining commercial ascendancy. The Tsar fully 
reahsed how very important it was for Russia to put an 
end to the isolation and seclusion hitherto persisted in. In 
the Tsar's closest entourage were to be found foreigners 
whose military and scientific achievements secured them 
positions of importance, and he had his son Feodor and 
his daughter Xenia educated by foreign tutors. 

His plans, for the founding of universities and schools show 
his appreciation of culture. He even sent a number of young 
Russians to German}', France, and Belgium to be educated. 
For England, indeed, he had the most pronounced partiality 
— so much so, that he was called the " EngHsh Tsar." 

The success of this foreign policy did not conduce, however, 
to internal quiet : a terrific storm was gathering. The Tsar 
Boris knew that he was hated by the Boyars, first on account 
of his serviUty to Ivan the Terrible, and secondly because 
he had succeeded where they had failed. He knew only too 
well that the people looked upon him with suspicion because 


of his marriage with the daughter of Malyuta Skouratov, the 
chief of Ivan's company of demons, a leader in devilry and 
therefore the Tsar's favourite. 

Another reason for animosity on the part of the citizens 
was the Tsar's partiality for foreigners, whom the Russian 
merchants looked upon as trade rivals. Finally the peasants 
were groaning under the bondage into which his ukase had 
thrown them. The great cities, which until recently had en- 
joyed a full measure of liberty under Lithuanian rule, grew 
restive under the Tsar's iron hand, as also did the Cossacks 
of the Don and the Volga, and even the lesser nobihty, for 
whose sake free peasants had been made into serfs. 

AIL-Qver the Empire there was smouldering unrest : the 
evil days of Ivan were forgotten in the discontent created 
by present conditions. When, therefore, a man appeared who 
claimed to be lawful heir to the throne, a descendant of 
Rurik and son of Ivan — that very Dmitri who was supposed 
to have died in Uglitch, — the response to his appeal was 

Who this pretender really was has never transpired, 
or whether he honestly believed in his identity with £he 
Tsarevitch. His history and personality are intensely 
interesting. A PoHsh magnate was the first to beUeve in 
his story, and procured for the pretender the whole-hearted 
support of the PoHsh Gqy^rmnent — given perhaps more for 
the salEe~ofTLarassing Russia and Boris Godounov than from 
any conviction of the righteousness of the cause. In return 
for the support given him, Dmitri agreed to surrender to 
Poland certain much-coveted territory, and promised the 
Papal nuncio to bring Russia into union with Rome and 
also to undertake a crusade against the Turks. He became 
engaged to Marina Mniszek, daughter of the Voyevod of 
Sandomir, who was to be married to him after his accession 
to the throne ; to her he promised the Crown jewels 
treasured up in the Kremhn, and to her father the town 
of Smolensk. With Polish money and Pohsh soldiers to back 
him the pretender entered Russia, where the populace hailed 
him with joy. The Tsar Boris sent troops against him under 
Prince Vassili Shuiski ; but that Boyar was in no hurry to 


conquer the onomy of his enemy, and, although there were 
moments when defeat seemed inevitable, the efforts of the 
pretender were ultimately crowned with success. 

Suddenly the Tsar died. Was it by poison_ taken jn a 
fit of melancholy ? Or was it from a paralytic stroke ? Whq 
can te ll ? After the death of Boris Godounov began a period 
of distress ^— tEe'^'^ troublous times," — which lasted for eight 
years. Neither liis son, a lad of sixteen years, nor his widow, 
the daughter of the most abhorred man in Muscovy, could 
reckon on support from the more or less disaffected army ; 
and finally even Basmanov, a Boyar who had been a loyal 
friend to the late Tsar, realised that the choice lay between 
surrendering to the claims of the~prelEender or opposing him 
and being crushed. Consequently, when Dmitri appeared 
before Moscow his proclamation was readily listened to, the 
people, clergy, and Boyars acclaiming him Tsar. After his 
entrance into the KjremUn he did all he could to show 
respect to the memory of his " father " and brother, and 
finally he had a private interview with the Dowager Tsaritsa, 
who duly recognised him as her son. 

Th^onlj__man_to^_iiphold and spread the rumour that 
Dmitri was not what he pretended to be was Prince Vassiji 
Shuiski, whose enemies denounced him to the new Tsar. 
TTp wa.qj Tnndpimnpd for treason, and his head was already- on] 
the_block_when at the last moment he was pardoned. 

Dmitri (1605^1606) was cro%vned with great pomp and 
ceremony, and began his rule under the happiest auspices. 
He had vowed not to shed a drop of " Christian blood," and 
therefore only sent into exile the leading men of the Godounov 
party. He recalled from exile Philaret Romanoff, the head of 
his supposed mother's family, and appointed him Metropolitan 
of Pskov. He treated his subjects with kindness and Uber- 
aUty. He was gracious to foreigners and tolerant in religious 
matters ; with regard to commerce it was his intention to 
introduce free trade ; he made drastic changes in the judicial 
system, which at this time was based on bribery ; and he also 
ameUorated the lot of the serfs. 

Whoever this pretender may have been, he had a sympa- 
thetic personality : full of gaiety and the power of enjoyment, 


he also possessed a cultured mind, pleasing manners, and 
perfect savoir faire. He must have been firmly convinced 
of his personal safety, his position, and the strength of his 
cause, for he dismissed his Polish army, retaining only a 
company of foreign mercenaries. An ardent admirer of 
the King of France, he did his best to introduce Western 
methods and customs into Asiatic Muscovy, and often 
pleasantly suggested to the Boyars that foreign travel was 
extremely beneiicial. In dress, also, he introduced changes ; 
Dmitri was the first Russian ruler to discard the flowing 
Tatar robes universally worn in Muscovy. 

Those drastic innovations caused dissatisfaction among 
the conservative Boyars and all who resented any departure 
from tradition. Another great cause of discontent was 
the increasingly overbearing behaviour of the Polish nobles 
who had followed in Dmitri's train and settled in Moscow. 
A climax was reached when his young Polish bride arrived. 
Her gaiety and thoughtlessness and her inconsiderate demand 
for secular music in the nunnery where she spent the few 
days before her wedding, as also her refusal to wear the 
traditional but unbecoming garments compulsory for a Tsar's 
bride, greatly incensed the people, already offended with 
their Tsar for marrying an " unbaptised one," a term apphed 
to CathoHcs by the fanatical Greek Orthodox Russians. 

By his failure to restrain the future Tsaritsa from thought- 
less and frivolous behaviour Dmitri played into the hands 
of the ambitious Prince Shuiski, who secretly fanned the 
discontent. Rumours spread that the " Latin heresy " 
was to be introduced into Russia, and the large party of 
arrogant Poles — Jesuits and princes — who accompanied the 
Polish bride-elect gave colour to this assumption. 

Shuiski and the Boyars, by means of a ruse, succeeded in 
arranging a coup d'etat. Eighteen thousand soldiers who 
were camping round Moscow were told that the Tsar had been 
taken captive by the Poles and that his life was in danger, 
whereupon they demanded to be entrusted with the protection 
of the KremHn in place of the foreign mercenaries, whp were 
to be sent away. Dmitri, though warned of danger, ignored 
it in the happy confidence that all was well ; but during 


a Statv ball whit'ii took place on the following night, when 
tlu' iivvat bolls of Moscow sounded the alarm and the Boyars 
entoied the Kremlm, the unhappy Tsar jumped out of a 
window to save himself, breaking his leg in the fall. Unable 
to escape, he was soon discovered and killed. His corpse 
was treated with indescribable savagery. After the mutilated 
body had been exposed three days to the gaze of the public, 
it was burnt and the ashes scattered to the winds. 

Themurder of tlie_Tsar was followed by the massacre of 
o ver tAvelve hundred Poles ; the .young Polish Tsaritsa was 
sp ared, bu t, alas ! for a life of shame. Dmitri's reign was 
beneficent, and his personality one of the most distinguished 
among Russian rulers. In all respects and in every sphere 
he outshone his predecessors in kindliness of nature, in in- 
tellectual culture, and abihty. Barbaric Muscovy, however, 
was not yet ripe for a Europeanised ruler : Tatar despot- 
ism still appealed more to the OrientaUsed character of the 

After the pretender's death Prince Vassili Shuiski 
(1G06) usurped the throne. The joyousness'of the Court 
of Dmitri was transformed into gloomy solemnity which, 
according to a Polish contemporary, " gave the impression 
of a permanent funeral." The next few years of Russian 
history were full of violence, civil war, and anarchy. Pre- 
tender after pretender put forward a claim to the throne, 
either personally or as the puppet of a party of Boyars. 
Ultimately the usurper Shuiski was deposed, he retired to a 
monastery, and once again the country was ruled over b}^ the 
Council of Boyars. 

The problem as to who the new Tsar was to be was 
urgent and very difficult, for no party felt itself strong 
enough to support successfully its own candidate. Moscow 
was threatened by two hostile armies, one the Polish army, the 
other led by a rebel — the so-called " Brigand of Touchina " — 
a Cossack pretender whom the Nvidow of the first pretender 
had been forced b\^ her father to recognise and to accept as 
her husband. 

At this juncture the Boyars decided to offer the crowTi 
to Vladislav, son of the King of Poland ; the latter, however, 


desired it for himself. Russia was in desperate straits : on 
the one hand she was in danger of being reduced to the status 
of a province of Poland, which fate, it is true, would have 
brought her into touch with Western civilisation, but at the 
cost of her independence ; and on the other she was threat- 
ened with domination by robbers and Cossacks, which would 
have meant anarchy and a total relapse into barbarism. 

But when things seemed at their worst, the incredible 
happened, and Russia was saved from foes without and 
within. The__people, the enslaved peasants and the down- 
trodden citizens, came to the rescue : national consciousness 
a woke__and„ti,e- nigh-tmare ^f f ojeigiL rule was lifted . The 
way for this deliverance was prepared by a religious revival : 
a wave of penitence and humiliation swept over the land, the 
monks of the famous Troitza monastery leading the move- 
ment. Just as in the days of lawlessness in Israel God 
raised up men to deliver the people, so now He raised up 
two deliverers for Russia — Minin, a butcher of Nijni Nov- 
gorod, and Pojarski, a country squire. Each of these men 
called upon the class to which he belonged to work for unity, 
and at the cost of great self-denial and sacrifice an army was 
raised and equipped. A mighty wave of national enthusiasm 
carried the people along with it ; part of the Cossack army 
which was investing Moscow was won over by the national 
party, the Poles were driven out of the city, and Moscow 
was restored to the Russian people. Minin, Pojarski, and 
the priest Palitsin shared the supremacy during the ensuing 
interregnum until a new Tsar could be elected and the old 
capital once more be placed under a lawful ruler. Russia 
was saved by this triple dictatorship of sincere patriots, who, 
themselves men of the people, understood the people. 

Although the Russian nation seemed reduced to the verge 
of inertia by despotism, her vitality had not been utterly 
destroyed. A Council of the nation met in solemn delibera- 
tion, and, contrary to the wish of the Boyars. who favoured a 
PoHsh candidate, it was decided not to elect any foreigner. 
Yet it was no easy task to decide upon a " Russian -born " 
candidate in the midst of the clamour raised by rival factions. 

The terrible upheavals which took place during this 


■■ IViiod of Trouble " (1698-1612) are duo chiefly, according 
to Professor Klyuchevski, to two causes : the extinction, 
after nearly eight centuries of rule, of the Rurik dynasty, 
wliich gave rise to a succession of pretenders, and the condi- 
tions created by the perpetual strife between tlie difl'erent 
classes, each supporting a Tsar of its own. 

ntimately ^likhail Romanoff, a youth of sixteen, son of 
the Metropolitan Philaret and a relative of the first wife of 
Ivan IV. — Anastasia Romanoff — was elected Tsar. 


BORIS GODOUNOV (1598-1605). 

Feodor Borissovitch (1605). 

PSEUDO DMITRI (1605-1606). 

VassiU V. Shuiski (1606-1610). 

In terregnuiu and Period of Anarchy, Vladislav of Poland (1610-1613). 




Mikhail Romanoff was chosen Tsar, not on account of any 
special virtue in himself, but because of the popularity 
enjoyed by his family, which some three hundred years 
previously had come over to Muscovy from Prussia, at the 
time when that country was still inhabited by Slavs. The 
Romanoffs had an unstained record, and, although only 
untitled Boyars, their position had never been questioned 
by their peers. Their integrity, love of learning, and charm of 
manner had made them popular in each successive generation. 

There were two other factors which told strongly in 
Mikhail's favour : his youth, which the Boyars hoped would 
render him a pliable tool, and the whole-hearted support 
given him by the two great parties which had been instru- 
mental in hberating Russia from Polish supremacy — namely, 
the citizens and the lesser nobihty in conjunction with the 
Cossacks. In fact, the election of Mikhail Romanoff may be 
looked upon as a national reaction. 

A new era opens up with the election of Mikhail Romanoff 
and the establishment of a new dynasty. The "Period of 
Trouble " had come to an end, and out of the poHtical 
and economic upheavals a new structure arose. Many old 
and cherished ideas and conceptions had to be discarded, 
and new ones, due to the altered conditions created during 
the troubled period of lawlessness, took shape. The old 
poHtical traditions of the personification of the State in the 
Tsar (" L'etat c'est moi "), and of the will of the sovereign 
as the sole expression of the State, had been shaken to their 

65 5 


very foundations. Tho people had witnessed the impotence 
of Tsars who wore merely usur})ers and pretenders and had 
not a nation behind them ; they had also passed through 
times when there was no Tsar, and when nevertheless Russia 
had managed to exist. The " State of Muscovy " came to 
represent a political conception in which the idea of the 
nation, as apart from the sovereign, was expressed. Recent 
experience had proved that, although a nation could exist 
without a Tsar, no Tsar could exist without a nation. 

The unparalleled conditions created by the extinction of 
the Rurik dynasty led to the election of a Tsar, and, even 
though this was achieved by means of the intrigues of the 
different ruUng parties, still, nominally it was done by the 
will of the nation. Their Tsar was no longer a " divinely 
appointed " ruler, but one only in virtue of the will of the 
people expressed by the Zemski Sobor, which consisted of 
representatives of the clergy, the Boyars, the lesser nobiHty, 
the leading merchants and commercial men of all ranks, 
and of the rest of the free populace. In every sphere of life 
innovations crept in and a new class of courtiers developed — 
a class of mere parvenus. 

The elected Tsars surrounded themselves with the men 
who had supported them and whose capacity and gifts had 
brought them to the fore. The position of the Tsar towards 
the Boyars also underwent a change. In former days their 
mutual relations had been based on custom and not upon 
any fixed law. All this was now altered : precedents were 
created and definite rules were established, and by the very 
fact that the Empire could no longer be claimed by the Tsar as 
his ancestral patrimony the demand of the Boyars to partici- 
pate in the government had more justification than before. 

Gradually the new pohtical and administrative idea of a 
triumvirate of " Sovereign, State, and Nation " was evolved : 
i.e. the Tsar was to hold his crown in virtue of heredity, 
but also by grace of election. He was to be a limited monarch, 
and to share his rule permanently with the Council of 
Boyars, and in exceptional cases also \vith the Zemski Sobor, 
i.e. with the National or " Territorial Council." 

The PoUsh Prince Vladislav, to whom the crown of Moscow 


had previously been offered, but who had lost it through the 
treachery of his father, Casimir II,, nevertheless persisted in 
his claim to be Tsar. The Poles refused to recognise the 
newly elected Tsar, Mikhail Romanoff, the first action of 
whose reign was to wage war against both Poland and Sweden, 
his arrogant neighbours. Ultimately it was decided to 
settle aU diplomatic differences by means of a conference, 
an Austrian envoy acting as arbitrator. Although this 
mediator failed, in 1615, to reconcile " fire and water," the 
EngUsh and Dutch plenipotentiaries proved more successful 
in 1617, when at the Treaty of Stolbovo the vexed question 
of the disputed provinces was settled and a compromise 
with Sweden agreed upon. 

Russia was thus set free to fight against Poland, with 
whom also, two years later, a treaty was concluded. A 
truce of fourteen and a half years was decided upon, and, in 
consideration of the right to retain Smolensk and other 
provinces, the PoHsh prince resigned his claim to the throne 
of Muscovy and an exchange of prisoners took place. 

The father of the Tsar, Philaret, Metropolitan of Rostov, 
who was among the prisoners, then rejoined his son, who was 
in urgent need of a strong and permanent adviser. During 
the first years of his rule he had been a pliant instrument 
in the hands of the Council of Boyars, who on his acces- 
sion had made him swear not to put any of them to death 
nor to decide anything without their consent : their horrible 
experiences during the last reigns forced the Boyars to safe- 
guard their persons against any possible arbitrary action on 
the part of the Tsar. They exacted from him a promise to 
leave aU matters of administration in their hands : in fact, 
they deprived him of any right to initiative. The Boyar 
Council and the National Council practically ruled the 
country : the Tsar convened the National Council ten times ; 
having been elected to power by it, he could not refuse it a 
share in the government. 

The first task of the new regime was to estabUsh internal 
order and to clear the country of the turbulent and dangerous 
element of robbers and outlaws, and last, but not least, to 
keep down the Cossacks, who by the freedom they enjoyed 


attracted the down- trodden serfs in ever-increasing numbers. 
TIio Cossiuks of the Dnieper fought under Poland against 
Russia, while those of the Don owed allegiance to Muscovy. 
A large number of these, however, had followed the second 
pretender, Dmitri, whom Marina, wife of the first pseudo- 
Dmitri, had joined in a career of adventure which ended in 
disaster. Marina herself was interned for Ufe in a nunnery, her 
Cossack lover was impaled, and their little son was hanged. 

On his return from captivity the Tsar's father was raised 
to the Patriarchate, and till Mikhail's death in 1645 father 
and son acted as co-rulers of Russia, to the great advantage 
of the country. Philaret was a strong, clever, and cultured 
man, a born diplomat and ruler of men : he occupied in 
Russia the place held in England by Cardinal Wolsey and in 
France by Cardinal Richeheu. It was he who directed the 
foreign policy and controlled the internal affairs of the Empire. 
Having been taught Latin by an Enghshman, and having 
travelled to Western Europe, he reahsed the vital importance 
to Russia not only of attracting but also of retaining the 
foreigners w4io now began to flock into the Muscovite Empire. 
He organised an army of foreign mercenaries and secured 
the services of foreign officers, among whom the EngHsh 
were given preference. The only drawback to this arrange- 
ment was the Muscovite notion that " once in Russian 
service, always in Russian service," and those who desired 
to return to their respective countries were forcibly prevented 
from doing so and were sometimes even imprisoned. 

The Streltzi, or Russian militia, v/ere reorganised, and, 
instead of being as hitherto led by Boyars, capable men of 
miUtary talent were appointed oflicers. By this arrange- 
ment the army and the aristocracy became estranged and 
the power of the latter considerably curtailed : the Streltzi 
were forced to marry in order to have sons, who were to 
become soldiers in their turn. 

The two Tsars — for their relationship amounted to this — 
introduced many changes into commercial Hfe, and with 
the help of foreigners industrial enterprise was developed 
and fostered. 

Economic conditions also required readjustment. During 


the period of anarchy, landownership had rapidly declined 
and taxation was weighing heavily on the peasantry. Dis- 
satisfaction was rife, and complaints were made by the 
Russian people, who were no longer the silent, long-suffering 
slaves to which despotism had reduced them. 

Philaret treated the Boyars with a high hand, yet he 
managed to limit their power without arousing their active 

Despite his usurpation of power, the Regent ingeniously 
evaded conflicts with his son, being too wise, too experienced 
and far-seeing to risk a rupture. There were moments when 
he actually took a higher position than his son, when for in- 
stance, in the procession on Palm Sunday the Tsar had to lead 
the horse of the Patriarch, who inci- 
dentally was also his father. 

The reign of the first of the 
Romanoff djoiasty having proved bene- 
ficent, it naturally followed that on the 
death of the Tsar Mikhail he was suc- 
ceeded by his son Alexei (1645-1676), 

then only sixteen years of age. Once Dotjblk CitowN of the 

. , ,, , Co-TsAKs Ivan AND Peter. 

again an immature youth became 

nominal head of the State, while the real power was wielded 

by a strong man, the young Tsar's tutor Morozov. This 

man brought about a marriage between his pupil and a girl 

belonging to the family of the Miloslavskys, an insignificant 

Boyar family, with which he then allied himself by marriage, 

increasing in his capacity of brother-in-law his power and 

authority. In league with the President of the High Court 

of Justice, Morozov introduced a reign of nepotism and 

corruption ; bribery became the only means of obtaining a 

favourable verdict, and the burden of taxation fell more and 

more upon the helpless peasants and citizens. 

The moment, however, arrived when the down-trodden 

people rebelled against the systematic oppression to which 

they were subjected, and more especially against their two 

powerful oppressors. One day, when the Tsar was riding 

through Moscow, one of the desperate citizens stopped his 

horse and forced the ruler to listen to his subject's appeal 


for justice. Alexei promised to instigate an inquiry, but this 
answer was not sufficient to satisfy the exasperated suppUants. 
A terrible riot broke out which lasted for three days, and 
Morozov would undoubtedly have been murdered if the Tsar 
had not pleaded, ^nth tears, for the life of his " second father." 
Being a clever man, Morozov amended his ways and from that 
time onward gave no further cause for complaint. The evils 
existing in the economic and judicial system were, however, so 
deep-rooted, and riots and risings were consequently of such 
frequent occurrence, that the Tsar finally decided to have the 
laws re\nsed, and in 1648 a new code was introduced. At the 
same time he created the " Department of Secret Affairs," a 
kind of secret service, as a means of preventing further revolts. 

The reign of Alexei Mikhailovitch was rich in important 
innovations which prepared the ground for the great changes 
and reforms introduced later on by his son Peter. What 
Philaret had begun was now carried on a stage further, partly 
because the Tsar was attracted by any innovations which 
smoothed his political path or which were of personal benefit 
to himself, but more especially because he had able and far- 
seeing statesmen to advise and assist him. 

In every sphere of life reforms were inaugurated : the 
army was reorganised, trade placed on a more solid basis, and 
the pubUc welfare promoted in every way. With regard to 
foreign policy, war and peace with Poland and Sweden alter- 
nated until, in 1667, the differences between Poland and Russia 
were temporarily settled. Although Russia lost certain 
territories, she gained others, among them Smolensk, the 
much-coveted city, and that part of the Ukraina in which 
Kiev was situated. Even though this union of the Ukraina ^ 
with Muscovy remained for another century more or less a 
" personal " union with the Tsars, and only meant a terri- 
torial gain of three thousand square miles, it was of great value, 
as it definitely settled the Cossack problem. Those inveterate 
fighters from the Dnieper, the Zaporogian Cossacks, were thus 
transformed from dangerous foes into useful allies. The 
Cossacks of the Don, however, remained a potential element 

^ See Chapter XXII., " The Ukraina ; the Cossacks of the Dnieper, or 
the Knights of the Zaporogian Setcha." 


of the unrest which in the great rising under Stenka Razin in 
1670 found its most marked expression. 

Stenka did not aim at being a pretender to the crown : 
his ideal was to be, not a Tsar, but a " brother " of the people. 
Unfortunately, however, in his hatred of the Boyars, he per- 
mitted his followers to commit such acts of cruelty that his 
name became a terror to the upper classes, though to the 
Russian peasant he is, even to-day, a hero — a deUverer from 
oppression. They believe that he never really died, and are 
convinced that he will reappear in the hour of their need. 

At the Treaty of Westphalia on the close of the Thirty 
Years' War, the Russian Tsar, who had become the ally of 
Sweden, made his voice heard for the first time in the councils 
of Europe. From this time Russian ambassadors more 
frequently visited European Courts, which in return sent 
their representatives to the Russian Court. A " Department 
for Foreign Ambassadors " was organised in Moscow. This 
increased intercourse with Western Europe necessitated a 
regular postal service, and the honour of being the first to 
bring Russia into the Postal Convention belongs to the Tsar 
Alexei Mikhailovitch. 

Foreigners of every nationahty and condition visited and 
even settled in Moscow, where the Tsar favoured the creation 
of the so-called " German suburb " — a kind of foreign quarter 
where they were free to live in their own style and manner, 
apart from the noise and insecurity of the Russian capital. 
Relations with England, however, grew strained, and ended 
in the temporary expulsion of aU EngHsh merchants from 
Moscow, in consequence of the Tsar's indignation with the 
English as a whole nation. 

In the year 1645 a Russian envoy, demanding a personal 
interview with King Charles I., found that he was expected 
to deal with the ParUament instead, and refused to do so. 
When he reported to the Tsar later on that the Enghsh 
had imprisoned their king, Alexei Mikhailovitch 's anger 
was aroused and vented on the British merchants, restricting 
their hitherto unhampered activity by irritating and contra- 
dictory orders. The Russian merchants took the opportunity 
afforded by the Tsar's attitude to present a complaint regard- 


iiig the detrimental eflFect of British trade in Russia ; when, 
therefore, the news of the execution of lung Charles reached 
Russia, he expelled the Enghsh altogether as members of a 
nation guilty of the crime of regicide. The Russian merchants 
hailed this decision with joy : it, however, proved only a 
temporary measure, for foreign articles in general, and even 
objects of luxury, had become a necessity to the wealthy 
members of the community, the whole standard of life having 
been raised. 

As in all times of transition, two tendencies were struggling 
for supremacy : the old exclusive Tatar tendency towards 
obscurantism was resisting the influx of new conceptions 
and ideals. This was manifested in the attitude taken up 
by man}^ in regard to education and the marked progress 
of civihsation. They feared the introduction of learning 
as dangerous both to the national and to the spiritual 
welfare of the people. This clinging at all costs to the tradi- 
tions of the past found its most startling expression in the 
Great Schism, called forth by the reforms of the Patriarch 
Nikon, whose influence over the Tsar became paramount, 
and who played as important a role during this reign as 
his predecessor the Patriarch Philaret had played during 
the previous one. The gentle, clinging, and intensely 
reUgious nature of Tsar Alexei }delded readilj^ to the masterful 
personality of the Patriarch, whose ascendancy over the young 
ruler became absolute — although, at the same time, a genuine 
friendship existed between the Tsar and his spiritual adviser. 

The Patriarch Nikon owed his exalted position to his own 
great gifts. He was the son of a peasant, but he displayed 
such administrative talent in the various monasteries 
to which he was sent that he was made Metropolitan of 
Novgorod. There, during a crisis, he rendered such services 
to the Muscovite Government that later on he was appointed 
to the Patriarchate, by virtue of which he wdelded the highest 
ecclesiastical authority. The Tsar readily accorded him the 
position of co-ruler which his grandfather Philaret had so 
successfully occupied. 

The new Patriarch was a cultured man, whose ambition 
it was to reorganise the Russian Church. He introduced 


changes, which, however, found no favour amongst the 
majority of an utterly uneducated clergy : he refused to 
ordain ilhterate men, enforced a more decorous behaviour 
during service, and insisted that prayers should be read more 
audibly and reverently. Himself a good preacher, he demanded 
that sermons should be preached by the other clergy, a hitherto 
unheard-of thing. 

In 1649 the Patriarch of Moscow invited some monks 
from Kiev to make, from the original, an exact translation of 
the Bible into Slavonic, as an authorised version for use in 
the Russian churches. It had become apparent that there 
was no uniformity in the text of the various missals used 
in the churches. Nikon wished to remedy this, and also to 
eliminate many clerical errors which had crept into the text 
owing to the ignorance of copyists. 

The Patriarch had not expected that these innovations 
would arouse a storm. The common people, however, and 
many of the clergy saw in this revision an attack on their 
faith. They feared that their salvation was endangered, 
they apprehended the reign of Antichrist, and, supported by 
all the adversaries of culture and progress, the masses refused 
to worship and the priests to officiate according to the revised 
version. The points upon which this divergency of opinion 
existed were trifling in themselves, but they appeared of vital 
importance to the Russian people. The bitterest strife 
was waged about such minutiae as crossing with three 
instead of with two fingers, or as the repetition of " O 
Lord, have mercy," instead of simply " Lord, have mercy." 
The people endured torture and banishment rather than 
repeat three hallelujahs, as the Reformers wished, instead 
of two. There was a bHnd and desperate cUnging to the past, 
and a terrible fear lest salvation should be endangered by 
these impious innovations. 

Neither the ecclesiastical party which imposed the reforms 
nor the laity and clergy which opposed them were able to 
distinguish between the essential and the unessential ; 
both sides showed themselves equally fanatical. The 
" Old Ritualists," as they called themselves, were subjected 
to fierce persecution and to the martyrdom of thousands. 


Many of those " Raskolniki " or schismatics saved themselves 
from death and banishment only by escaping into the 
forests, whore, later on, they split up into new sub- 

An estrangement gradually made itself felt between the 
Tsar and the Patriarch. This was due to several causes, the 
chief among these being the fact that the Tsar, during a 
prolonged absence from Moscow as leader of the army against 
Poland, had gained in experience, self-confidence, and manli- 
ness, and had begun to crave for independence. The rule 
of the Patriarch during his absence had been excellent, but 
by liis arrogant manner he had ahenated both Boyars and 

Had the Tsar been of a less gentle nature, the friendship 
between him and the powerful co-ruler would never have 
lasted as long as it did. A rupture was inevitable, and, 
urged on b}^ the Boyars and bj^ his wife, the Tsar unwittingly 
brought about the crisis. He sent a message to the Patriarch 
to ask by what right he was assuming the title of " Great 
Ruler." Nikon's reply to this provocation was to send in 
his resignation. This was more than the Tsar anticipated, 
but it was too late for either side to draw back. Nikon's 
enemies made use of the strained situation, accusing him of 
ecclesiastical misdemeanour, and a Council was called to 
sit in judgment on him in which even ecclesiastics of the 
Eastern Church took part. The great reformer was con- 
demned and banished. Strangely enough, although he him- 
self was deprived of all authority and power, his revisions and 
reforms were accepted by the Council and introduced into the 
Russian Church. 

The reign of Alexei Mikhailovitch was rich in striking 
personalities who, each in his sphere, promoted the Europeanis- 
ing of Muscovy. One of these pioneers of education derided 
the obscurantists by comparing them to owls, who, he said, 
had no right to express an opinion on the sun, as the optic 
organs of the owl were unable to endure the hght. In spite 
of opposition from the extremists, education made progress, 
and to have their children educated by foreign tutors became 
the rule among wealthy princes and Boyars. 


The leaders of this new movement were some cultured 
monks from Kiev, introduced into Moscow by Nikon 
and supported by such statesmen as Ordin-Nashtchokin 
and Rtishtchev, who, each along his own lines, furthered the 
cause of civilisation. Western culture found permanent 
entrance into Russia, but although individual representatives 
of foreign nations left their mark, and eminent Germans 
especially had great and lasting influence, the most important 
external medium of culture was Poland. One half of Russia 
had been for centuries under Lithuanian — i.e. Polish — influ- 
ence, and a large section of Russian society had strong political 
and family ties with Poland, consequently her influence was 
naturally predominant. The most vital cultural influence, 
however, came to Muscovy from Kiev, which in course of 
time had once more attained the high position of leader of 
Russian spiritual and national life. 

It had become imperative for Russia to assimilate all the 
best that the West could offer her. Consequently not only 
European comforts Hke chairs and carriages, luxuries like 
foreign wines, exotic plants, and expensive clothing, were 
introduced, but general knowledge had to be easily accessible 
to the younger generation of the aristocrats. To this end 
Peter Mohyla, the Metropolitan of Kiev, a true statesman, 
proposed to the Tsar that a monastery should be established 
in Moscow where Greek and the Slavonic language should be 
taught. This suggestion was not accepted at the time, but, 
when the Patriarch of Jerusalem advised the Tsar to use his 
influence to further education and culture and to put them 
on a sound basis, Kiev was requested to send learned monks 
to Moscow for this purpose. 

The most eminent among these was Slavinitski, who issued 
not only theological but also scientific books. He translated 
Thucydides into Russian, and also works on history, philology, 
archaeology, geography, and medicine. His nomination to 
the position of manager of the Imperial Printing Works 
gave him a free hand in literary activity, and his position as 
priest enabled him to spread his views from the pulpit by 
means of his powerful sermons. He protested energetically 
against the low conception of religion which considered the 


invocation of saints sufficient to deliver a man from sin. 
Slavinitski's influence was great and beneficent ; in him 
common sense, sound learning, and true spirituality were 
harmoniously blended. 

The fact that the Tsar realised that secular education 
was not only harmless but very beneficial to the nation is 
shown in liis proposal to found schools in which highly 
educated foreigners should be appointed as masters. 

Another influential monk must be mentioned, Simeon 
Polotski, whom the Tsar had met in Poland and engaged 
as tutor to his children. This versatile man was a brilHant 
preacher, a MTiter of religious as well as secular drama, and 
acted as an intellectual stimulus to the Tsar as well as to 
his entourage. From 1670 Polotski directed the Imperial 
Printing Works, issuing educational and historical works 
and also works of fiction. Foreigners introduced the 
drama into Muscov}'' to replace the coarse marionette 
shows which were the only form of dramatic entertainment 
then prevalent in Russia. The chief patron of the drama 
was the Tsar, who, according to his EngHsh physician, 
Horsle}^ once watched for ten consecutive hours the 
tragedy of Ahasuerus and Esther, ^vritten and staged by a 
Protestant clergyman in charge of the German Church in 
Moscow. Sixty-four young foreign officers and merchants 
had been trained by him to act in this play, which proved a 
great success and helped to promote histrionic effort. 

Among the various eminent men who lent lustre to the 
reign of Alexei Mikhailovitch must also be mentioned the 
Tsar's Chancellor, Ordin-Nashtchokin, a statesman of excep- 
tional breadth of ^asion, who realised that success in military 
and political enterprise was of little permanent value unless 
supported by corresponding internal development and pro- 
gress. He has justly been called the Colbert and Louvois of 
Russia, since he inaugurated far-reaching reforms in the army 
and in commerce. In the character of this first " truly 
European " statesman honesty and painstaking industry 
were blended with great diplomatic sldll. Ordin-Nashtchokin 
may be considered a forerunner of Peter the Great. 

Next to him in constructive activity stands Rtishtchev, 


whose aim it was to create more equitable relations between 
the classes. The third of these eminent leaders of Russian 
progress was the cultured and refined Boyar Artamon Matveiev, 
who was married to a Scotch lady, nee Hamilton, and whose 
father had been ambassador to various European Courts. 
Although these statesmen were far in advance of their time, 
they were nevertheless truly national in spirit. 

Another man who left his mark on this period was a 
Serbian, Krishanitch, who was the forerunner of Panslavism 
and the first to suggest to the Russian Tsar the pohtical and 
national advisabihty of making the cause of the Slav peoples 
of the Balkans his own. Unfortunately for this prophet, 
his candour irritated the autocrat. He preached the doctrine 
that empires do not exist for Tsars but Tsars for empires, 
and he also expressed his strong conviction that Russian 
tjTanny was worse than any other. The fact that Krisha- 
nitch was a member of the Roman Church and advocated 
a pohtical union with Poland, combined with his fearlessness 
of speech, cost him his hberty. He was banished to Tobolsk, 
where he wrote his famous treatise on Panslavism. 

Concurrently with this tendency to culture there ran a 
stream of reaction which sporadically broke out in anti- 
foreign agitation such as that to which the wise Patriarch 
Nikon had fallen a victim. In the eyes of the conservative 
hierarchy and laity Russia was in danger from two separate 
quarters — Roman Cathohcism and Protestantism ; the one 
being promoted by Pohsh, the other by German influence, 
through the many foreigners in the capital. The dilemma 
consisted in the undisputed fact, that the State needed 
foreigners to organise it on European fines, and that the 
Church also required help from the cultured West. But how 
to utifise, assimilate, and adapt this help without losing 
national characteristics ? That was the problem to be solved 
by statesmen. Tsars, and clergy. 

It was in the house of Artamon Matveiev that the Tsar 
Alexei Mikhailovitch met the young Na tafia Naryshkin, 
his friend's niece, a very beautiful but also an excep- 
tionally well-educated girl, whom he chose as his second 
wife. The new Tsaritsa, although much younger than the 


Tsar's eldest daughter, greatly influenced her husband during 
the live years of their married life. Natalia was an exception 
among the ladies of her time ; brought up by her two Scotch 
aunts, she liad been accorded in her broad-minded uncle's 
house all the educational and social privileges denied to her 
less fortunate Russian sisters. 

The Tsar's last actions were quite in keeping with his 
gentle and amiable character : he proclaimed an amnesty, 
recalled all exiles from their place of banishment, and remitted 
all overdue taxes. His eldest son Feodor he blessed as his 
successor, and his infant son Peter he entrusted to the care 
of Artamon Matveiev, his wife's uncle. 

During Alexei Mikhailovitch's reign Muscovy had entered 
the Concert of Europe, and, although her contribution to the 
harmonies and dissonances of the general ensemble might 
easily have passed unnoticed, nevertheless her participation in 
it had become an estabhshed fact, and particularly so where 
Turkey was concerned. It was a fortunate coincidence that the 
pioneers of culture, the heralds of a new era — the Europeanisa- 
tion of Russia — lived in the reign of so broad-minded and 
kind-hearted a monarch. Without his whole-hearted support 
their efforts would have been far less successful. 

In 1676, five years after his marriage to Nataha Naryshkin, 
the Tsar died, and his son Feodor (1676-1682), whom he 
had entrusted to good masters, succeeded him on the throne. 
The wise and Hberal education which had been given to 
this prince bore good fruit, and during an uneventful 
reign of six years the gentle Tsar followed in his father's 
footsteps both as to foreign and internal poUtics. 
Diplomatic relations with Western Europe were consoHdated 
— with France especially they were friendly, — outstanding 
disputes with Poland were settled ; the Ukraina was more 
closely united to Russia ; and a truce of twenty years was 
concluded with the Sultan. 

How great a change had come over the attitude of official 
and aristocratic Russia is aptly illustrated by the fact that 
Louis XIV. of France and Wilham III. of England were now 
the models to be copied, no longer the Shah of Persia or the 
Sultan of Turkey. 


Having been educated by one of the most eminent monks 
from Kiev, the Tsar Feodor genuinely cared for Western 
culture, and did his best to promote education. The Slavo- 
Graeco-Latin College was founded in his reign, which was 
characterised by a constructive home policy. 

The one act which was destructive, though only to 
become constructive, was the drastic manner in which he 
settled the vexed question of rank. The Tsar decided 
to abolish this perpetual cause of friction among his 
Boyars. The nobiHty had hitherto reckoned their im- 
portance in accordance with the positions held by their 
ancestors at the various princely Courts ; a Boyar would 
in 1640 refuse to occupy any administrative or miUtary 
position, or any post at Court, under a man whose ancestor 
might, in the thirteenth century, have held an inferior 
position. The crucial question was whether the ancestor 
of a noble had served an appanage or suzerain prince. 
Every Boyar family possessed a genealogy in which the rank 
of service of his ancestors was tabulated, and in all disputed 
cases it was this " Rodoslovie " or " family record " which 
was consulted. This system of " Miestiechestvo " or " rank 
by service " comphcated the administration to such an extent 
that the Tsar decided to cut the Gordian knot with his sword 
of autocracy. On a certain day the unsuspecting nobles 
were ordered to bring their treasured records to the Tsar, 
who had every one of them burned, thus making a clean 
slate. The discomfited Boyars had to make " bonne mine au 
mauvais jeu," and had to pretend to be satisfied with new 
documents simply recording their status at that date. 

The death of the Tsar Feodor inaugurated a period of 
family feuds. In the ordinary course of events the Tsar's 
second brother Ivan would have succeeded, but unfortunately 
he was feeble-minded. The respective relations of his 
father's two wives struggled and intrigued for supremacy, 
each party claiming power through the person of the two 
candidates for the throne. Ivan's mental and physical 
defects afforded his mother's family, the Miloslavslds, an 
opportunity of exercising pressure to secure authority, which, 
however, was successfully contested by the Naryshkins, and 


these, supported by the Patriarch, proclaimed the young 
Peter Tsar and liis mother Regent. 

Their calculations had, however, been made without 
taking a most important fact into consideration, namely, 
the personahty of the late Tsar's sister, the Tsarevna Sophia, 
who, although not the eldest of the Tsar Alexei's six daughters, 
was by far the most ambitious. The terem, the women's 
department of the Kremhn, in which two generations of 
Imperial widows and spinsters were Uving together, was a 
hotbed of intrigue, and indeed the only variety from the 
terrible monotony of the life of seclusion to which the Imperial 
princesses were condemned by Russian custom was intrigue. 
The Princess Sophia, who had been educated by the same 
tutor, Simeon Polotski, as her brother Feodor, was much 
better instructed than any Russian princess had ever been 
before, and she not unnaturalty chafed under the Oriental 
system of female seclusion. Her imagination had been 
inflamed by stories from Byzantine history of woman's life, 
and her desire to play a great role by assuming regal power 
was fostered by a monk who put before her the example of 
the Empress Pulcheria of Byzantium. 

She finally succeeded in her ambitious scheme ; a coup d'etat 
was prepared and carried out with the help of the Streltzi 
or militia, whose chief was an adherent of the Miloslavski 
party. A false alarm that the Tsar Ivan had been murdered 
by a member of the Naryshkin family served as pretext for 
action, and a sanguinary palace revolution quickly placed 
the coveted power in the hands of the Tsarevna, who was 
proclaimed Regent on behalf of her two minor brothers, the 
younger of whom, Peter, she sent away with his mother, the 
deposed Regent, to Preobrajenskoe, a place some miles 
outside Moscow. The Tsarevna Sophia, the " Virgin Ruler," 
as she wished to be called, had now free scope for all her 
ambitious plans. She took part in the government of the 
country, personally presiding over the Council of Boyars ; 
she broke with every tradition, ignored every custom, spoke 
even with the common soldiers, and mixed with the men, 
till her behaviour scandalised the conservative citizens of 
her capital. 


Clever though the Tsarevna was, she had a still cleverer 
adviser in the person of her lover, " the great Golitzin," as he 
was called by his contemporaries. Cultured and refined, a 
connoisseur of art and literature, the Prince was the first 
in Russia to possess a private hbrary ; his palace was more 
like an art gallery than a private house, full of treasures 
innumerable and costly. Prince Vassili Golitzin was also a 
first-rate diplomatist ; for seven years he controlled the 
foreign policy of Russia on behalf of the Tsarevna, and the 
conclusion of the favourable Treaty of Androussovo was due 
to his skill. The vexed question of the Ukraina, about which 
war had been waged for over thirty years, was thus definitely 
settled. Through GoUtzin's influence Russia also joined 
Poland, Austria, and Venice in the " Holy League." 

This tolerant statesman offered an asylum to the persecuted 
Huguenots, for, although a great personal admirer of Louis 
XIV., Prince GoHtzin strongly objected to intolerance, and 
especially to the use of coercion, in religious matters. Russia, 
like other States which gave refuge to the Huguenots, gained 
nothing but advantage from this large-hearted poHcy, for 
these French families and their descendants, as has been 
the case elsewhere, contributed greatly to the intellectual, 
scientific, and industrial progress of the country of their 

Unfortunately for the Tsarevna, her other advisers were 
less Europeanised than Golitzin, and this circumstance led 
to frequent friction. The most reactionary and the most 
difficult to manage were the Streltzi, who reasoned that, as 
it was owing to them that the Regent had been raised to 
her present position, she should fall in with their ideas and 
should accede to their ever-increasing demands for special 
privileges. In order to obtain greater freedom of worship, 
the Streltzi, the majority of whom were Old Believers, 
instigated two risings. The Tsarevna finally summoned an 
Ecclesiastical Council, at which she was present, and in which 
bitter recriminations were made on both sides. The Old 
Believers, both lay and clerical, vehemently objected to the 
presence of a woman at the deliberations, and advised her 
to return to the terem, the only suitable place for women ; 



and, a goiunal loss of temper ensuing, the Council ended in 
a tiasco. 

The dissatisfied Streltzi stirred up another riot, in con- 
sequence of which the Tsarevna fled with her brother, the Tsar 
Ivan, to tlie Troitza monastery. From this impregnable 
stronghold she now vented her wrath on the Streltzi, whose 
chief she had beheaded. She then returned to the Kremlin 
%Wth Ivan, but now an attack was made on her power from 
an unexpected quarter. Her younger brother Peter, who had 
been leading the irresponsible life of a boy at Preobrajenskoe, 
and whom she hoped to turn into a boor by depriving him of 
educational advantages, suddenly began to evince a keen 
interest in the affairs of the Government, appearing one day 
at the Council of the Boyars and calmly claiming his place 
as co-Tsar with his brother Ivan. He also efl:'ectively objected 
to a triumphal procession arranged by his sister for GoHtzin 
on his return from a war against the Turks in which the 
Prince had been only partially successful. 

The Tsarevna and her partisans soon reahsed that unless 
her brother were quickly rendered powerless her exercise of 
power would speedily come to an end. A plot was hatched 
and the Streltzi were informed that the Tsar Peter and his army 
of " play soldiers " were advancing against Moscow with the 
intention of killing the Tsar Ivan and his six sisters. As the 
Streltzi nourished a grievance against Sophia, only four 
hundred of them declared their readiness to stand by the 
Tsarevna ; these were given orders to kill the Dowager- 
Tsaritsa, and, should " her young cub " try to defend her, 
to kiU him also. 

Warned of this plot, Peter in his turn took refuge in the 
Troitza monastery, where he was joined by his mother and his 
wife Eudoxia, to whom he had been married when only a boy. 
From this place he issued his orders : ten men out of every 
regiment of Streltzi were to appear before him. 

Sophia used every means in her power to retain her 
followers. She coaxed in vain, and threats proved equally 
useless ; none of the messengers she sent to her brother 
returned, not even the Patriarch, who until then had been 
her staunch supporter. In despair she set off in person to 


throw herself on her brother's mercy, but on the way 
orders reached her to return to the KremHn and also to hand 
over at once her favourite, the leader of the Streltzi. Unable 
to resist, the Tsarevna was forced to give in : her friend was 
delivered over to the Tsar, by whose order he was tortured and 
killed. Her chief adviser, Prince Golitzin, only escaped the 
same fate through the intervention of his nephew, Boris 
Golitzin, a great friend of the Tsar Peter, and, last but not 
least, the Tsarevna herself was condemned by her brother to 
a life of celibacy and seclusion. Forced to enter a convent, 
this ambitious and full-blooded woman had to spend the rest 
of her Ufe as a nun. 

The poor, feeble-minded Tsar Ivan remained untouched 
by all these changes : he acquiesced as readily in the plans of 
his brother Peter as formerly in those of his sister. 


Mikhail Romanoff (1613-1645) : first of New Dynasty. 
Alexei Mikhailovitch (1645-1676). 
Feodor Alexeievitch (1676-1682). 

Regency of Tsarevna Sophia Alexeievna (1682-1689) for Ivan V. Alexeievitoh 
and for Peter I. Alexeievitch. 




It was as the successor of the policy inaugurated by his 
great-grandfather Philaret and his father Alexei Mikhailovitch, 
and by maldng use of their wise measures of preparation, 
that Peter I. was able to gain liis fame in history as the great 
Reformer of Russia. 

Yet at aU times and in all circumstances he must have 
stood out as a leader of men, a great organiser and admini- 
strator. The accident of his birth, which made him heir to 
the throne of Russia, only opened up a wider field of activity 
and gave him greater scope for display of his gifts. It was 
his character as a man, not his position as the Tsar, which 
made him what he was, and where a less capable and far- 
seeing man would have abused the power thus placed in his 
hands, he used it only to the advantage of his beloved people 
and of his country. This is the great fact which gives moral 
value to his gigantic personahty. 

The student of psychology will find intense interest in 
following the development of his character, and in tracing 
the early years of Peter's hfe we may clearly perceive the 
trend his future would take. 

Sent into a kind of exile with his mother by his ambitious 
sister, the Regent Sophia, the boy was left pretty much to his 
own inclinations and devices, which found stimulus and 
outlet through the influence of capable, practical foreigners 
with whom he came in contact. It is reported that his 
imagination had been fired by coloured pictures of Germany, 
that he listened eagerly to stories about his father's reign, 



and that his curiosity was aroused by an astrolabe, the use 
of which he wished to understand. Fortunately for him, 
the men to satisfy his curiosity and his zeal for learning were 
at hand, and although not instructed in the ^nesse of Greek 
and Slavonic, as his eldest brother and sister had been by 
the cultured monk who was their tutor, he was taught in a 
very practical way elementary science. A Dutch carpenter, 
a German doctor, and various foreigners of the " German 
suburb " were his first teachers. Without the knowledge 
of his sister he frequented these quarters, and there, in actual 
contact with men, he passed the initial stages of his education, 
acquiring much useful knowledge, but also some undesirable 
habits from intercourse with rough associates. 

His inquisitive mind and his practical talents soon found 
an outlet, and his future reforms spontaneously evolved 
themselves out of boyish pursuits and games. He found 
an Enghsh saihng-boat, procured by his father as a model 
for a fleet, which had lain useless and forgotten in a shed, but 
it gave the impetus to Peter's love for the navy. A Dutch- 
man taught him how to sail it himself, and as his skill increased 
his desire grew to sail on a wider expanse of water, and new 
boats were built by his orders. He had a vision, not only of 
a maritime outlet, but of a navy ; and when, visiting Archangel, 
he beheld the White Sea and saw the foreign vessels in the 
harbour, his determination became fixed, not only to create 
a fleet, but to gain access to the sea. He never lost sight of 
this ambition, which explains the wars of later years. 

Just as the navy of Russia owes its origin to his boyish 
dehght in a discarded saihng-boat, so the nucleus of the future 
army was but a company of boy- soldiers with whom the 
Tsar played at war. What had been started for amusement 
gained in significance and importance : the Semeonovski 
Regiment, formed of the three hundred falconers, and the 
Preobrajenski Regiment, consisting of stable-boys, villagers, 
and companions of the young Tsar, had their origin in either 
case in these war-games, and by the time Peter had reached 
the age of nineteen and insisted on taking the reins out of his 
sister's hands, the number of these " play-soldiers " had 
reached fifteen hundred. 


The young Tsar realised early that his position alone did 
not necessarily qualify him to take the command in these 
military games and therefore he secured the assistance of 
fully qualiHed instructors from among the foreign residents, 
two of whom, the Scotsman Patrick Gordon and the Swiss 
Francois Lefort, became from that time the young Tsar's 
friends and co-operators. This playing at war was taken 
with intense seriousness ; trenches were dug, forts built, 
besieged, stormed, defended or taken, and in time the nucleus 
of a real army was formed and trained, in which, however, 
the Tsar only occupied the lowly rank of bombardier. 

After the coup d'etat in 1689, by which Peter had dethroned 
his sister and assumed the rulership which was his by 
right, the young Tsar left the actual rule of the realm in the 
hands of his maternal uncles, and pursued for another five 
years his scheme of fitting himself for the great task he had 
chosen, the creation of a navy and an army. 

Soon after Peter's assumption of power there came a clash 
between the two opposing forces of the time in Russia — 
desire for progress and conservative clinging to traditions 
of the past. The occasion for conflict was a vacancy in the 
Patriarchate. The Reform party, under the leadership of 
the young Tsar, put forward the progressive Metropolitan of 
Pskov ; while the Old Russian party supported the claim of 
the Bishop of Kazan, a strong Conservative, to whom a shaved 
chin was a sure sign of heresy. 

Peter had been married when quite a youth, his mother 
hoping to distract him from his mihtary games and foreign 
friends. His wife's whole family belonged to the anti-reform 
party, and as in face of their opposition the j^oung Tsar did 
not feel strong enough to enforce his own wishes, the 
MetropoUtan of Kazan, the representative of obscurantism, 
became Patriarch. 

In regard to foreign politics Peter followed in the steps 
of his sister. As a member of the Holy League it was his 
duty to fight against the Turks, and, besides this, the Patri- 
arch of Jerusalem had appealed to him on behalf of the 
downtrodden Balkan Christians. When, therefore, the Tsar 
decided to try his new ships in an attack on the Turkish 


stronghold at Azov, whereby he hoped to gain access to the 
Black Sea, his political responsibiUties afforded him a good 
pretext for making an attack on Azov. He therefore sent 
his infant fleet, built at Voronej, down the Don ; but this 
venture was doomed to failure. The navy was too new, too 
small, and not experienced enough to resist the Turkish fleet ; 
and added to all this was the treachery of a foreign engineer, 
who, in revenge for a rebuff given him by the Tsar, spiked 
the Russian guns before going over to the enemy. 

For Peter, however, obstacles existed only to be overcome. 
Undaunted by this defeat, he returned to Moscow more 
persistent than ever in his intention to create a navy, which 
was to be ready within a year's time : twenty-six thousand 
men were set to work on it, and, although misadventures 
and delays took place to hinder the work, his ambition was 
reahsed, and after a space of twelve months seventeen hundred 
ships of all kinds were ready for use. Again he sailed for 
Azov, the fortress was forced to capitulate, and thus the 
outlet to the Black Sea was secured. The Tsar was delighted, 
triumphant — at last Russia had a port on the Euxine ! On 
his return to the Capital he called his Council, and in consulta- 
tion with it he ordered three thousand Russian families and 
also four hundred Kalmucks and Streltzi with their families 
to settle at Azov as a permanent garrison. Churches were to 
be built and a base for naval activity was established. It was 
also decided to build warships and to send fifty young Russians 
to Western Europe to study shipbuilding and seamanship. 
These measures greatly incensed the reactionary party, whose 
anger increased when the Tsar announced his resolve to visit 
foreign lands in person. 

Peter had already at this early stage of his reign a clear 
perception of his duty towards the people, whom he loved 
with a great and ardent love. He realised the gigantic nature 
of the task set before him, and that to change the passivity 
and dependence of his nation into activity and self-reliance 
both internal and external stimuli were required ; that if the 
Russian nation was ever to rise out of the morass into which 
Mongol and despotic rule had plunged it, strong measures 
must be used, including even force when necessary. It would 


not suffice to have merely a few clever and cultured 
foreigners as leaders of the army or as diplomatists and 
craftsmen — their role should be limited to that of teachers, 
whose ambition it should be to make their pupils inde- 
pendent. The skilled foreigner was only to be a school- 
master, with whose services the pupil when grown to manhood 
should be able to dispense. Peter realised that practice, and 
practice only, makes perfect ; and that it was better for 
Russians to flounder and make mistakes for themselves than 
to let tilings be done very perfectly for them by foreigners. 

The Tsar had before him the vision of liis people's moral and 
economic awakening, and there came to him now the illumi- 
nating idea that practice not preaching would have the most 
lasting effect, and that only by setting an example himself 
could he be of real help to his people. Thereupon he decided 
to leave his exalted position, in order to become first an 
apprentice, then a skilled workman, and finally a teacher and 
an example. For this end he had to go to school. 

He sent an imposing embassy of two hundred and seventy 
men, under the leadership of his beloved and admired friend 
Lefort, to the Courts of Europe, joining it himself in the 
capacity of a private gentleman under the pseudonym of 
" Pet^r Mikhailov." This mission proved a great success, 
and helped to change the conception hitherto held in Western 
Europe of the coarseness and boorishness of Russian am- 

On the frontier of Holland the Tsar took leave of his party 
to become a humble shipbuilder. At Saardam he w^orked 
at high pressure, and those of his grandees who had followed 
him in personal attendance were made in their turn to tackle 
shipbuilding. During these months in Holland the eager 
Tsar, who wished not only to see but to understand every 
detail of what was new to him, exhausted his Dutch guides 
by his indefatigable energy. Not satisfied with personallj'^ 
gaining knowledge and skill, he wished his people to share 
his pri\ileges, and to that end purchased mechanical 
models, collections of books, and natural history specimens. 
The " collection," however, in making which he took par- 
ticular care was a company of officers, engineers, artists. 


sailors, and workmen, all of whom he engaged for service in 

While at work in Western Europe Peter kept in touch 
with home affairs, and his practical orders to those he 
had left in charge proved that his studies abroad in no wise 
absorbed him to the detriment of his realm. 

From Holland Peter went on to England, where he studied 
shipbuilding at Deptford Avith the same thoroughness, thus 
learning what was most valuable in each country. His talks 
with WilHam III. were of great practical use to him, for 
that experienced ruler was able to dispel some of Peter's 
political fallacies and illusions, which were mainly due to 
want of knowledge. The king also gave him sound advice 
on the subject of war with Turkey. 

Avoiding France, which was the ally of Turkey at that 
time, he next proceeded to Austria, where he studied 
military science ; but his plan to visit Italy was frustrated 
by the serious news that the Streltzi, his inveterate foes, had 
again risen in revolt. 

The part played by this body of men in the life of the 
young Tsar had been a pernicious one, deeply and injuriously 
influencing his nature. As a young child he had witnessed 
the cruelty of the Streltzi to his mother and her family ; their 
very existence acted as a poison on his sj^stem, and not even 
all his absorbing work could make him forgetful of their 
baneful power. Formerly they had been mere tools in his 
sister's hands ; but by this time they had come to hate him 
on his own account, for, instead of being able to live the 
leisurely life of the militia, they had been forced by Peter 
to fight against external foes, had been sent to the south 
against the Turks, and had then been removed to the western 
frontier, and their fear was lest they should be turned into 
regular soldiers. They upheld, as a body, the old regime ; 
many of them were also Old Behevers, who abhorred the 
changes introduced by the Tsar in the matter of clothing 
and shaving of beards. 

Although secluded in a nunnery, the ex-Regent Sophia 
had never lost her love of intrigue ; from behind its walls 
she had fostered this rising — which, fortunately for Peter, 


Patrick Gordon was successful in quelling by the time the 
Tsar reached Moscow. 

On his way home Peter managed to visit the Polish 
king, with whom he planned a war against Charles XII. 
of Sweden. 

Once more at home in his capital, the Tsar thoroughly 
investigated the Streltzi rising ; he soon detected his sister's 
share in it, and even came into possession of an autograph 
letter which had been received from her by the leaders of the 
mutinous miUtia. The Tsar, so great in many respects, so 
unhke his predecessors in that he was often able to endure 
contradiction and humbly to accept honest and justified 
criticism, in the present emergency lost his moral balance. 
Whenever his straightforward nature encountered intrigue 
and deceit his hot temper was apt to break out, and now 
aU self-control, all pity, seemed to have forsaken him, leading 
him to vent his Avrath in a ruthless and brutal manner on the 
Streltzi and on the originator of the plot — his sister. Two 
thousand Streltzi were killed, many by his own hand, and 
the ex-Regent was locked up in a cell, outside the only window 
of which the corpses of Streltzi were hung, two of them holding 
in their stiffened hands her letter instigating the revolt. 

When it became apparent to Peter that his wife also had 
supported this rising, which was intended to undo all his work, 
and when he understood that she had set his own son Alexei 
against him and his reforms, his fury knew no bounds. For 
some years he had lived separately from her, and now he 
compelled her to enter the Pokrovskoe nunnery at Suzdal, 
where, nine months later, she took the veil, thus making her 
marriage void. 

After this terrible' experience the Tsar decided to intro- 
duce drastic changes. He realised that the Russian nation 
could not be awakened by any gentle and gradual process ; 
the lethargy of centuries had to be dispelled by vigorous 
means, and a succession of ukasi was issued by him to intro- 
duce reforms and to remove abuses. Peter had set himself 
the task of bringing Russia out of her isolation into per- 
manent and not merely occasional touch with Western Europe. 
His nation had been left long — far too long — to itself and 


to intercourse with the Mongols, who were morally on a 
lower level than the Russians. To teach his people right 
values and true proportions, they must associate themselves 
with their superiors in those very matters in which they 
stood higher than the Tatars. 

The need for an outlet to the sea more and more began 
to influence the Tsar's foreign policy, for he had come to 
realise that, after all, Azov could not fulfil the great things 
he had hoped for from its acquisition, and that at all costs 
his country must have free access to the Baltic. 

With this purpose ever before him, the Tsar did all in 
his power to accomplish his gigantic enterprise, but it 
took him twenty-one years to become acknowledged master 
of the much-coveted Baltic. A heavy price, however, had 
to be paid for this supremacy. 

The " Northern War " (1700-1721), with its great defeat 
at Narva in 1704 and its decisive victory at Poltava in 1709 
(and with its alternate gain and loss of territory), ultimately 
ended in complete victory for Peter, who was left in undisputed 
possession of the Baltic provinces of Livonia and Esthonia, and 
of the Finnish provinces of Ingria, Carelia, Wiborg, etc. 

As early as 1703 the estuary of the Neva with the district 
surrounding it, and the Swedish fortress of Nyenschantz, 
had been taken by the Russians ; there he founded 
St Petersburg, now Petrograd, for he found it absolutely 
imperative to transfer his seat of government to a new 
capital, whence, unhampered by Muscovite tradition, ani- 
mosity, and obstruction, his reforms could be launched upon 
the empire. 

To his mind Moscow, the ancient capital of Russia, was 
the citadel held by his enemies, the reactionaries who loved 
the old Tatar manner of life, with that comfort, indolence, 
and irresponsibility which could flourish only where ignorance 
reigned. Moscow, grown strong and come to power by means 
of Tatar favour, was the incarnation of all those evils which 
Peter purposed to abolish. St Petersburg, as he called his 
fair creation on the banks of the Neva, after his patron saint, 
was to be the stronghold of Western civilisation, a seat of 
learning and a generator of energy. 


Peter's olioicc of locality was not without precedent : 
as early in the history of Russia as 1240 Alexander Nevski, 
Prince of Novgorod, in a desperate effort to wrest this 
region from the Swedes, won that famous victory on the 
Neva from which he got his name. 

The waters of the mighty Lake Ladoga flowed through that 
river into the Gulf of Bothnia. Although the Neva was only 
thirty-six miles long, it united lake and sea, and might have 
linked up, by means of canals, the whole river system of 
the interior of Russia. The territory through which the 
Neva flowed and the western shore of Lake Ladoga belonged 
to Sweden ; the eastern shore belonged to Russia. It was 
at the point where the river Volkhov flows into the lake 
that in 861 Rurik built the town of Ladoga, from whence he 
stretched out his hand over the Russian lands. Later on, 
where the Neva flows out of Lake Ladoga the Russians 
built the fort Oryechek ; and several centuries later on that 
very spot Peter built his famous fortress — Schliisselburg. 
Tradition, history, and commerce had linked Russia with 
Lake Ladoga, whose outlet to the sea remained in Swedish 
hands until Peter took possession of it in 1703. 

Sweden had always known the value of this marshland, 
and, realising its political possibilities, had in 1300 a.d. built 
a fortress on the Neva : the Pope himself sent priests, equally 
skilled in the use of the trowel and the sword, to assist in thus 
establishing an outpost of Romanism on the borders of 
schismatic Russia. 

The history of the frontier fortress, the battles waged 
against it, and its repeated reconstruction, prove that Peter 
the Great was only following out an old policy in utilising 
this tract of land. While, however, his Swedish predecessors 
had built their fortress, and later on a town, some miles below 
the estuary of the Neva, he decided on building St Petersburg 
on the numerous islands which formed the delta of the river. 
There, where Finnish fishermen used to eke out a precarious 
living, and where at a later date Swedish nobles had hunted 
elk, fox, and bear — there the Russian Tsar founded his new 
capital. The names of these islands still bear witness to 
the life led by the first Finnish settlers ; it was on the 


" Hare " island that the Tsar built the fortress of St Peter 
and St Paul. 

It seems that the Tsar's idea had been to create a second 
Amsterdam, or perhaps a Venice of the North. The largest 
of the islands, now Vassili Ostrov, he intended to intersect 
with canals — a plan which came to nought, but to this day the 
regular " lines," as the streets are named, recall this 
frustrated scheme. Two hundred thousand men — among 
whom were Swedish prisoners of war, Esthonians and Letts, 
and some twenty thousand Cossacks — lost their lives in the 
swamps which it was their task to transform into dry land. 
It was said at the time that the soil was hardened by the 
bones of these victims. 

For the Tsar, with his indomitable will, obstacles did 
not exist, and the beauty of the city which bears his name 
is a proof of his success in overcoming almost insuperable 
difficulties. This town was created by the Tsar's word of 
authority : his nobles were commanded to build themselves 
houses, and those who had masons among their serfs were 
obliged to send them to the banks of the Neva. The nobles 
groaned under this despotic order to build themselves houses 
on the marshland, for they infinitely preferred living on 
their estates or in Moscow, " the heart of the Empire." How- 
ever, it was useless to battle against the hurricane let loose 
by the Tsar. 

The Tsar's choice of a site for his new capital was severely 
criticised by his contemporaries : the deadly climate of the 
marshland, its close proximity to Sweden, and its distance 
from the centre of the vast empire were some of the ob- 
jections brought forward. The newly acquired seaports 
on the Baltic — Reval and Riga — could never be rivalled by 
St Petersburg, as the Neva was too shallow for navigation 
by large vessels, but, never daunted, the Tsar established the 
Baltic wharf, at which a new fleet was built with feverish 
haste. He also obliged merchant ships to use the new harbour 
by putting prohibitive dues on that of Archangel, and by 
such methods he succeeded beyond expectation, for in 1725 
two hundred and forty vessels visited St Petersburg, many of 
which were piloted by the Tsar in person. 


Peter's illustrious antagonist, Charles XII., caused him 
much trouble, and when Mazeppa, the Cossack Hetman, joined 
the Swedish king, revolt was added to foreign warfare. The 
reasons which turned this Cossack into a traitor are not far 
to seek. Peter I. presented lands in the Ukraina to the 
Starostas, who had hitherto only held them by virtue of their 
office. He thereby changed Cossack lands into the private 
property of his grandees, and this arbitrary action led to dissat- 
isfaction among the people of the Ukraina, whose sympathies, 
as a fact, were divided, some favouring Poland and some 
even Turkey. The Hetman Mazeppa, a personal favourite 
of the Tsar, cherished, unknown to Peter, the ambition of 
making himself King of the Ukraina. He knew full well 
that from national and political reasons the Tsar would never 
agree to the rise of an independent State in the south-west 
of Russia. Mazeppa therefore decided to offer his help to 
Charles XII. and thus attain his ambition. Although Peter 
was warned by trustworthy men of Mazeppa's treachery, he 
refused to believe it till the stern actuality of Mazeppa's 
revolt forced him to do so. Mazeppa's plot failed to secure 
him the desired aim : the majority of Cossacks did not join 
him, as anticipated, and the small number he could lead to 
his ally the King of Sweden was but a negligible quantity. 
At the battle of Poltava in 1709 Charles XII. was beaten, 
and the way to Russia's final success was opened up : she 
now stepped into the place hitherto occupied by Sweden 
as a first-class Power. 

Simultaneously with the " Northern War " Peter also 
waged war against Turkey, the ally of Sweden. Envoys 
from the Balkan people had pleaded with him to deliver them 
from the oppression of the Turks, and the Tsar, considering 
himself their lawful defender, and reckoning on a general 
rising of the Balkan population, had marched against the 
Turks. The undertaking, however, failed, and nearly ended 
in disaster for the Russian troops. The WaUachs, instead of 
rising against the Turks, as promised by the political agents 
of the Balkan nations, remained loyal to the Sultan, and the 
Tatars of the Crimea delayed the Russian commissariat by 
an unexpected attack from the rear. After three days of 

Warriors sent by Andrei Bogolyubski, Prince of Suzdal (1157-1174) 
against Novgorod. 

Detail from an Ikon in the Church of the Holy Mother of God in Novgorod. 


heroic and stubborn fighting on the part of his famished 
army Peter had to acknowledge himself beaten ; and but for 
the astute behaviour of his comrade and friend, his wife 
Catherine, matters might have gone very ill with the Russians. 
She sacrificed all her jewellery, collected every bit of gold 
and jewellery in possession of the officers, and sent it as 
a present to the Turkish Grand Vizier. Peter authorised 
the envoy who was to hand over the presents to make peace 
at all costs short of surrendering the estuary of the Neva. 
The Grand Vizier showed himself generous and agreed to the 
withdrawal of the Russian army ; the only stipulations 
being the surrender of Azov and Samara and the razing to 
the ground of the fortress Taganrog, recently built by the 

By the time the Sultan and Charles XII. heard of these 
terms it was too late to make any effective objection to 
them. The Grand Vizier had, however, to pay for his 
generosity by exile, and the Treaty of "The Pruth " (1711) 
was only ratified owing to pressure brought to bear upon 
the Sultan by the European Powers. 

All Europe seemed to be at war during these years, and 
rapid changes in political combinations turned the enemy 
of to-day into the ally of to-morrow, and vice versa. The 
period of 1700 to 1721 is like a kaleidoscope, which ultimately 
shapes itself into a picture of gain and glory for Russia but 
of apprehension for her Allies. Russia was becoming powerful, 
and the Western States began to look upon the hitherto 
despised barbaric Muscovy as a potential danger and 
menace to themselves. The last of Peter the Great's wars 
was undertaken in 1722 against Persia, resulting in the ac- 
quisition of Baku and the occupation of Daghestan, Ghilan, 
and Mazenderan, and during the last years of his life he 
did his best to extend his empire eastward. 

During the first quarter of the eighteenth century Peter 
revisited Western Europe. In 1711 he did so to drink the 
waters at Carlsbad, and also to marry his son Alexei to 
the sister-in-law of the Austrian Emperor ; and in 1717 
he visited France with the object of arranging a marriage 
between his daughter Elizabeth and the young King of France 


— a plan which came to naught, as the Duke of Orleans, 
the Regent, declined the alliance. As on his first visit to 
Europe, the Tsar studied art, commerce, science, and litera- 
ture, discussing deep subjects with the great men at the 
Sorbonne and pohtical matters with ministers of state. 
Although neither family nor pohtical union was con- 
cluded, relations with France gradually became settled, and 
in 1721 the first permanent French Ambassador took up his 
residence in St Petersburg. 

While in Paris Peter is reported to have embraced the 
statue of RicheHeu and to have exclaimed : " O thou 
great man, if thou wert still alive I would present thee with 
one half of my dominions if only thou wouldst teach me how 
to rule the other half." 

On his return journey from France news of family troubles 
vexed the Tsar : he received information of his son's fhght 
from Austria, where that unworthy youth had taken refuge 
after severe altercations with his father. The latter had 
demanded from his heir either the amendment of his evil ways 
— his ill-treatment of his wife, and his machinations against his 
father's reforms — or his abdication. Instead of acting on 
this choice Alexei had fled to Austria, and at this juncture 
of the Tsar's European tour had now vanished from there. 
The unhappy father sent two confidential agents to search 
Europe for his contumacious son, who was finally tracked 
down at Castle St Elmo at Naples and brought back to 
St Petersburg. 

In consequence of this affair the Tsar instituted in 1718 
an inquiry which proved conclusively that during the last 
seven years the Old Russian party, in co-operation with the 
ex-Tsaritsa, had intrigued to frustrate his reforms, and that 
his heir had lent himself to their machinations. Severe 
judgment and punishment were meted out to aU who 
had been imphcated in this anti-reform movement : loss of 
property, flogging, and even the death-penalty were imposed 
upon the Tsar's secret enemies. His first wife, the nun, 
was convicted of having intrigued to raise her son Alexei to 
the throne, and also of iUicit relations wdth a Boyar. The 
outraged Tsar and husband flogged her with his own hand, 


and then shut her up for Hfe in another nunnery. As to 
his son, a Council of one hundred and twenty-four secular 
judges found him guilty of high treason and condemned 
him to death, almost immediately after which the unhappy 
Tsarevitch suddenly died. Historians differ as to the manner 
of his death, but it is believed to have been in consequence 
of the tortures he had undergone. 

That the father in Peter sujffered intensely in treating 
his son thus has never been doubted ; he felt he had no 
choice — his duty to his fatherland, the welfare of his people, 
came first. He knew that he exposed himself to the con- 
demnation of men, but he comforted himself with the thought 
that " the Judge of all men would rightly estimate the motive 
of his action." This family tragedy was the keenest grief of 
the Tsar's hfe, for to have had in his lawful wife and heir the 
bitterest antagonists of his reforms was a perpetual pain, a 
draught of bitterness even in the sweetest hours of success. 

All, however, that he had failed to find in Eudoxia he 
obtained from his second wife, who gave him devoted sym- 
pathy, full understanding, and whole-hearted co-operation 
in his work. The Tsar had met Martha Skavronskaya in 1703 
in the house of his friend and minister Mentchikov, who was 
living with the Livonian peasant girl, a captive of war. She 
found favour in the Tsar's eyes, and being transferred to 
him, at his request, henceforth loved and served him 
with the whole-hearted devotion of a strong and simple 
nature. Wise in her own practical way, she proved herself 
a splendid comrade to her Imperial master. Her advice 
he gladly asked, while she tactfully refrained from ever 
pushing herself forward or interfering in politics. The 
union between the Tsar of All the Russias and the peasant 
girl from Livonia proved a perfect success. Love and 
friendship united the two, Peter's vehement nature 
being balanced by Martha's more equitable temperament. 
She was baptized into the Greek Church, receiving the name 
of Catherine, the Tsar himself acting as her godfather. In 
1706 he had married her privately, but five years later he 
granted her official recognition as his legitimate wife. Later 
he publicly married her in the Cathedral of St Isaac, in 



grateful recognition of her valiant and timely help on the 
occasion of liis unsuccessful expedition against Turkey. 

Li 1714 the Tsar estabUshed the Order of St Catherine 
in honour of his wife, who had borne him eight children. 
Only one of her sons lived, and only two of her daughters : 
Anna, who married the Duke of Holstein-Gottorp, and EUza- 
beth, who remained single. 

Peter won the rare honour of having his supereminent 
merits appreciated by contemporaries, and although their 
number at first was not large, their strong and loyal behef 
in him and liis work has come to be shared by all who 
reaUy know Russian history. Especially in the despatches 
of foreign ambassadors is this appreciation evident. The 
French Ambassador, Campredon, wrote : " The Tsar has set 
himself the task ' de changer entierement du noir au blanc le 
genie, les moeurs et les cotltumes de sa nation.' " The 
same diplomatist testified that in pursuit of this end the 
Tsar was indefatigable in his efforts to master every branch 
of administration and to take a personal part in every 
deUberation of his ministers, conscious of his own more 
detailed and practical knowledge of affairs. 

The Danish Ambassador to Russia wrote : " The Tsar 
towers above all the men of the Empire," and again : 
" The Tsar is a miracle of wisdom, keenness of thought, 
diligence, skill, and power of work. Without the assistance 
of experts he supphes his ministers with all the material 
needed for their deHberations, and works out plans as regards 
State and Church. He works daily for hours in the various 
departments Mdth head and pen ; there is no department in 
which he does not take a personal share." 

Another ambassador, writing about a conversation with 
the Tsar, in which the latter complained of having to be 
a " Jack-of-aU- trades," describes his versatihty, and says 
that he was successful and skilful in everything to which he 
put his hand — whether quenching a fire, inventing a new gun, 
or arranging a list of toasts to be proposed at a festivity — for 
" whatever he does, he does with zeal and understanding ; 
one might imagine that he had nothing else to do but the one 
thing on which he is engaged at the moment ; while, in reality, 


all the responsibilities of the State, the direction of military 
operations and of ecclesiastical afifairs, are on his shoulders." 

Another foreign contemporary wrote : " Should Peter 
die, then farewell to all science." The fame of the Tsar's 
power of appHcation, of his marvellous energy and depth and 
versatihty of thought, greatly impressed all those who came 
in contact with him. His indefatigable and thoughtful care 
for the welfare of his people can be traced in the vast number 
of documents and marginal notes written by the Tsar's own 
hand "in so distinct a handwriting and so clear a style that 
even a child can comprehend them." According to the same 
contemporary, "II fit une creation a la lettre " ; even 
writing treatises as a guide for future reforms, in which he 
points out how and in what circumstances they should be 

So gigantic a task as the Tsar had set himself obviously 
required assistance, and he succeeded in finding men able and 
wilHng, even if few in number, to support him. His earliest 
collaborators had been foreigners — Frangois Lefort and the 
Scotsman Patrick Gordon, who taught him the principles of 
mihtary and naval warfare, and who later occupied the 
positions of general and admiral. There were also the 
Admiral Cruys a Dutchman, Perry an EngHshman, and the 
Germanised Scotsman Bruce, an honourable and therefore 
greatly respected man, who acted as head of the artillery 
department ; besides several other capable men whom the 
genius of the Tsar had discovered and made use of to further 
his far-reaching schemes. In the realm of diplomacy it was 
Ostermann, the son of a German clergyman, whom Peter 
the Great trusted as possessing unerring political instinct ; 
and it was to his skill that the favourable Treaty of Nystadt 
in 1721 was due. His moral character, however, was not 
above reproach. 

Again, the Russian aristocracy suppUed capable helpers, 
chief among whom was Field-marshal Boris Cheremetiev, 
who successfully assisted the Tsar in his mihtary undertakings 
and fought his battles during the Northern War. This 
honourable and able mihtary leader belonged to that section 
of Russian society which, some time before Peter's accession, 


had favoured Western culture. There were also members of 
other old Russian families — the brothers Golitzin, Prince 
Dolgorould, Counts Tolstoi, Golovin, Golovkin, Apraxin, 
and others. It was hard for these blue-blooded aristocrats 
to associate ^^'ith parvenus, raised by the Tsar to rank and 
power, such as Mentchikov, who became his chief minister, 
or Yagoushinski, " the eye of the Tsar," his Chief Procurator, 
or Shafirov, a baptised Jew, who acted as Finance Minister. 
But Peter the Great made use of genius and talent wherever 
he found it, and the discovery of a man Hke Mentchikov, 
whose gifts, vitahty, and viriUty were nearly on a par with 
those of his Imperial friend, justified the innovation. 

Mentchikov and Ostermann understood the Tsar perhaps 
better than any of his other collaborators ; the great gifts 
and power of Mentchikov especially were whole-heartedly 
expended in the service of his Imperial master, whose mind 
he knew, whose plans he furthered, and whose policy after the 
Tsar's death he was to carry on. 

First among the clergy to uphold the Tsar was Dmitri 
Touptalo of Rostov, whom the Church has since canonised. 
A briUiant polemical writer, he fought with his pen for the 
reforms of the Tsar, upholding them as in no way contrary 
to the will and spirit of God. By his writings as well as 
by his discourses he confuted the accusation levelled against 
the Tsar by his enemies that he was Antichrist. He 
wrote a book on The Signs of the Corning Antichrist, proving 
that none of these could be appUed to the Tsar, and his 
treatise on The Image of God and Man's Likeness to Him was 
directed against the Old BeUevers in their opposition to the 
Tsar's order about cutting the beard and shaving. Another 
ecclesiastical supporter was Theophal Prokopovitch, Metro- 
poUtan of Novgorod, a learned theologian, who on his arrival 
at Moscow from Kiev was aghast at the ignorance of clergy 
and laity, and at their puerile and sterile theological 

Other supporters were Theophilact, Archbishop of Pskov, 
who acted as general apologist to the great reformer, and 
Stephan Yavorski, MetropoUtan of Ryazan, who after the 
death of the last Patriarch occupied the position of " Guardian 



of the Patriarchal Throne," and in his capacity of Director 
of the Ecclesiastical Academy did his utmost to raise the 
intellectual level of the clergy, 

A rather unexpected defender of Peter's financial reforms 
arose in the person of Possotchov, a merchant, who in his 
treatise Poverty and Riches was the first to try and enlighten 
the Russian public on the principles of political economy. 
Mixed up with many wise and true ideas, such as the evil of 
serfdom, and the necessity for all to be equal in the eyes 

Plan of the Estuary of the Neva (1698), showing Islands on which 
Peter the Great built his Capital. 

of the law, were such quaint notions as that it was the Tsar's 
image and superscription alone which gave value to current 
coin, and that it would therefore be equally valuable if made 
of leather, so long as the image of the Tsar was stamped 
upon it. 

In his zeal to acquire knowledge the Tsar learned from 
friend and foe. To him the defeat at Narva in 1700 
had been " a blessing in disguise," for, as he put it, 
"necessity made us diligent and experienced." On the 
evening of the battle of Poltava he invited some captive 
Swedes to dinner, and drank the health of his " teachers." 
After the Treaty of Nystadt he wrote to General Apraxin : 


" Pupils usually complete their studies in seven years ; our 
schooling has lasted three times as long, but fortunately'' 
the result has been so good that it could not have been 
better." Ever ready to do all he could to fit himself for his 
gigantic task, nothing seemed too small and insignificant to 
know accurately. Peter would not have so thoroughly deserved 
and earned the title of " Great " if there had not been in 
him that primary element of all true greatness — humility : 
he recognised and honoured greatness where he met it, and 
endured contradiction and criticism from just and hone&t 

In contrast with the habits of his predecessors, who 
preferred to spend their lives in a semi-monastic existence 
of religious exercises requiring no effort, no expenditure of 
energy, Peter rejoiced in strenuous activity, and the key to 
his life may be found in the saying, " The soul's joy lies 
in doing." This also partly gives the clue to the opposition, 
whether secret or public, passive or active, with which the 
energetic reformer met. His people feared his methods. 
They had not yet reached that stage of mental development 
where reason is dominant ; they could not see, for example, 
why they should be forced to cross the Neva in sailing-boats, 
as a consequence of which many unskilled in sailing were 
drowned, when they might have rowed across in safety. The 
Tsar, however, knew that unless he forced them to learn to 
sail they would never do so. What did the loss of a few 
lives matter to him, if only the principle of sailing were 
learned ? To him human life was of little value if it stood 
in the way of his reforms or of the fulfilment of his plans : 
witness his building his new capital on the marshy land 
adjoining the estuary of the Neva. 

It is easy to understand that his drastic measures hurt 
the susceptibilities of nearly every class of society. No one 
dared disobey him, but many longed for his death, desirous 
of retiring to their country houses or to Moscow, there 
to relax the strain to which the Tsar's strenuousness had 
subjected them and to relapse into the old comfortable laissez 
faire policy. Habits of indolence and sloth, traditions of 
ignorance and superstition, and old social customs a la Tatar 


were all ruthlessly ignored by this modern, go-ahead Tsar. 
He was conscious of exciting hatred and opposition ; but 
his energy and activity were stimulated to their utmost by 
the lurking fear that, unless he personally carried through 
his reforms and put them on a solid and lasting basis, his 
beautiful edifice of a Europeanised nation would collapse with 
his death. " Work while it is day " was the idea acting 
subconsciously as a spur to aU his efforts ; and so he did, 
with the result that his work was not undone after his death 
but served as the foundation for further development on 
the same lines. 

When the long Northern War had been brought to a 
successful close in 1721 by the Peace of Nystadt, whereby 
the Baltic Provinces were ceded to Russia, and the " Russian 
Empire " had emerged out of Muscovite Russia, the Senate 
and the Synod offered to the Tsar the title of " Father 
of the Fatherland, Peter the Great, Emperor of All the 
Russias." After a solemn service in the cathedral the new 
dignity thus conferred upon him was proclaimed to the 
nation. From henceforth he was to be officially styled 
" Imperial Majesty." 

The majority of the European Powers recognised the 
assumption of the new title, but the Austrian Emperor 
deeply resented a rival to his hitherto unique position. Peter, 
on his side, while he had refused the more ambitious title 
of " Emperor of the East," which had been suggested, reckoned 
himself the virtual successor of the Byzantine Emperors, 
and thus upheld the claim of his predecessors since the time 
of Ivan III. 

In this same year Peter issued an ukase to the effect that 
the sovereign had the right of appointing as his successor 
whomsoever he liked. This arbitrary alteration of tradi- 
tional custom greatly incensed the Old Russian party, which 
was hoping for his death and their consequent restoration 
to power as advisers to his grandson — a minor. Their fears 
were confirmed when, in 1727, he personally crowned his 
wife " Tsaritsa," thereby making the former serf -girl eligible 
to succeed him as ruler of Russia, without, however, formally 
appointing her his actual successor. The Conservative party 


were aghast at this innovation, but the Tsar's will was and 
remained supreme. The question of the succession, however, 
was not settled and threatened to become acute, for the 
legitimate heir according to custom and precedent — Alexei, 
Peter's son by his first wife — had died, and soon after him 
Catherine's son Peter. Eventually, after three years, the 
autocratic ruler who had claimed the right to appoint his 
heir died without having nominated his successor. 

The death of the Tsar came as a general surprise, for, 
although during the last years of his life he had not been in 
robust health, no one had expected his demise at the age of 
fifty-three. His iron constitution had, however, been under- 
mined by violent excesses in drinking, which, helped by a 
habitual disregard for personal safety, led to his untimely 
death. And yet there is congruity in the direct and ultimate 
cause of Peter the Great's death with the conception and idea 
which ruled his life. The first servant of his people, their 
deliverer from the bondage and misery of the past, he spent 
his life in a restless pursuit of the aim he had set before himself, 
i.e. his nation's moral and economic welfare ; and, as an 
incident consistent with this ideal, his death was due to the 
consequences of a truly humane act. Seeing a boat capsize 
in the Neva and some sailors struggling for their lives in the 
water, the Tsar jumped in after them, and at the risk of 
his own life saved the drowning men. He had hardly re- 
covered from a severe illness, and the icy water gave him a 
chill which a few days later proved fatal. There are writers 
who criticise this act of rescue, making it a reproach to the 
Tsar that he thus sacrificed his life : they contend that he 
lacked the sense of proportion which ought to have told him 
that his life was of greater value to the nation than the lives 
of a few sailors. But surely it was a noble thing to do, even 
though he was an Emperor ! It had become an ingrained 
habit with the Tsar to make sacrifices on behalf of his nation ; 
and thus to " throw away " his life in the rescue of other 
lives came naturally to him. Peter died as he had lived, 
faithful to the ideal of duty, a man truly " Great," a ruler 
with a better right to this title than most kings and emperors 
of whom history speaks. 



The Empire o¥ Russia. 



In writing about the reforms of Peter the Great it is only 
fair to say that historians differ, according to their political 
convictions, as to their value, and, while agreed as to the 
greatness of his personality and ready to credit him with 
genius, they are greatly at variance in judging the results of 
his life-work. Those of the Slavophile school condemn his 
reforms wholesale, pre-Petrine Russia appearing to them 
perfect; while the school of "Westerners" — the present-day 
successors of men like Boris Godounov, Alexei Mikhailovitch, 
and Golitzin — consider Peter the saviour of his people. 

Yet another point of view is presented by critics who 
agree that Muscovite Russia needed reform, but urge that 
the method of reform might have been wiser. Russia, they 
say, would have fared better had she been permitted to evolve 
gradually her own peculiar State organisation in harmony 
with her national characteristics, instead of having an alien 
form of government thrust upon her by force. 

The goal Peter the Great set himself to reach was to ensure 
the safety of his country from external foes, while developing 
its internal prosperity. In domestic matters he realised that 
there was urgent need of a twofold emancipation — the people 
must be freed from the brutalising Tatarisation inherited 
from their Eastern conquerors, and the State must so far be 
secularised as to win release from the theocratic conceptions 
borrowed of old from Byzantium. This conviction influenced 
the Tsar in all his internal reforms, and indicates the basis 
upon which he built the new edifice of a modern European 
State ; it explains his actions and accounts for the opposition 



they aroused in the conservative centres of the nation, both 
lay and clerical. 

Some critics consider that the State Peter laboured to 
bring into being was simply the expression of his own person- 
ality. What his nature craved for, they say, was absolute 
rule over a nation which was to be a merely colourless mass. 
He found his ideal practised in Sweden ; he therefore copied 
the organisation of that State, and thus introduced into Russia 
bureaucracy in addition to autocracy. In such a State there 
would be no use for individualities. The Russian nation how- 
ever objected to being thus crushed into mere pulp. The 
opposition his reforms encountered was not always the 
expression of ignorance or a love of obscurantism : it repre- 
sented at times a justifiable revolt against violence done 
to national feeling. 

The renowned Russian historian Soloviev has coined a 
word which graphically expresses Peter's policy : " Povorot- 
k-zapadou," " the turning towards the West " — a conversion 
from the state of " Kitaism " or " Chinaism " to that of 
" Westernism." The Tsar's foreign policy broke down the 
wall of seclusion built up around his nation during the 
centuries of looking Eastward, which had resulted in a 
baneful isolation for the Russian Empire. Thanks to the 
purposeful and persistent efforts of Peter I., Russia now 
took her place among the great European Powers. It was 
in consequence of his internal reforms that his country was 
cleared of the Oriental and barbaric rubbish which had 
accumulated in the course of years. 

The genius of the Tsar, his tremendous vitality, his practical 
knowledge of minute detail, his tireless activity, and his 
inexhaustible energy enabled him to undertake a task which 
could only have been faced by a Hercules ; and although Peter 
the Great did not succeed in completely cleansing the Augean 
stable of Tatarised Russia, he had opened the sluice-gates 
to let in the flood which was gradully to sweep away all that 
polluted his nation. 

The motive power of the Tsar's life and activity was love 
for his people and the desire to bestow on them the many 
benefits they so sorely lacked. His methods of procuring 


their welfare were more drastic than the recipients of the 
unsought-for blessings approved ; but the Tsar felt himself 
a man who had to carry out a gigantic undertaking in a limited 
space of time, and to take short-cuts was the only possible 
way of reaching the goal within the time at his disposal. 

It is worth while to try and realise some of the tremendous 
odds against which the great reformer had to contend. 
The first was his isolation — his lack of native collaborators, — 
and how keenly he felt this handicap can be seen in his letters 
to his faithful comrade Catherine, his second wife. 

Peter had practically to create his helpers — had to infuse 
men with his own enthusiasm — had to impress them not only 
with the desirability but also with the feasibility of his schemes 
for reform. He succeeded in raising helpers, two of whom — 
the most congenial to his spirit — after his death carried on 
his policy, which otherwise would have been submerged by 
the stream of reaction, obscurantism, and bitter hatred which 
had been kept in check during his lifetime. 

How radically Peter's methods differed from the tradi- 
tional is demonstrated by the personalities of these fellow- 
workers : instead of being descendants of ancient Boyar 
families, they were simply parvenus. Ostermann, the son 
of a German clergyman, became his Foreign Minister ; and 
Mentchikov, erstwhile baker's boy, a vendor of pasties, was 
made admiral, general, home secretary, and finally a prince 
of the realm. The Tsar had met him in the house of Fran9ois 
Lefort, and, discerning latent possibilities and great gifts 
in the young man, took a fancy to him and drew him into 
his circle. 

It was this knowledge of human nature, this insight into 
character, which enabled Peter to pick and choose the right 
helpers for the building up of his great edifice. It was not 
as if this great master-builder had clear ground on which 
to work : his task was to pull down, to destroy, to root up 
and to clear away the debris of the old before he could 
create his new building. It cannot be wondered at that 
there was a great crash when this demoUtion took place, 
and that the dust then raised might weU have choked a less 
robust physique. When, for instance, love of his country 


and patriotism, as opposed to paternal love, constrained him 
to remove the Tsarevitch Alexei as a dangerous obstruction, 
and also when many Boyar families had to be ruthlessly 
punished for intriguing against his reforms, serious trouble 
resulted. Not unnaturally the Boyars objected to the rise 
of parvenus to power, influence, and rank : they also resented 
the abolition of the old order of the nobility, which was now 
being superseded by one in which rank was conferred as a 
reward for service to the State. It was a radical change, 
but Peter I. acted on the principle that responsibility and 
privilege were correlative. 

So busy a bee as the Tsar had no use for drones in his hive ; 
he himself set an example of work, making personal sacrifices 
for the welfare of his nation, and therefore felt justified 
in demanding the same from those favoured by conditions 
of birth. 

Peter introduced a graduated scale of service : the Russian 
nobles had to serve the State in some capacity or other ; in 
the army for a minimum of seven years, in the civil service 
for ten years, in any commercial or industrial capacity 
for fifteen years. Those who would not work were harmful 
to the general welfare, and therefore the only way to make 
them innocuous was to deprive them of their land and even 
to deny them the right of marriage. But to those who did 
their share, the way to power and riches stood open. To 
prevent the impoverishment of his landed gentry, and also 
to induce the younger sons to enter State service, Peter 
introduced the law of inheritance by entail. 

The other important piUar of the old edifice which the 
Tsar demohshed, only to rebuild under another capital, was 
the Church. 

Peter the Great knew fuU well what an important role had 
been played by such clever Patriarchs as his great-grand- 
father Philaret and, during the reign of his father, by the 
Patriarch Nikon. It was incompatible with his new con- 
ception of the State and with his position as Autocrat of AU 
the Russias that he should run the risk of allowing any head 
of the Church to assume such power ; when, therefore, the 
office of Patriarch feU vacant, the Tsar delayed making a 


fresh appointment. As a temporary measure he created a 
new ecclesiastical office, that of " Guardian of the Patriarchal 
Throne," which he replaced in 1721 by the " Holy Synod." 
His idea was that a representative body of men would safe- 
guard the spiritual interests of the nation more effectively 
than any one man, the ignorant populace being apt to consider 
such a single official as a second Tsar, whose action they 
would uphold and support in the behef that they were thereby 
ranging themselves on the side of God. 

The duties of this new ecclesiastical body were outUned by 
the Tsar liimself , and if they had only been faithfully carried 
out would have proved a blessing to the nation. These 
duties were : to combat superstition, to suppress the worship 
of spurious relics, and to spread the knowledge of the Gospel 
by means of the printed Word and education. To enable the 
Synod to do its work with authority, the Tsar granted it the 
right of promulgating ukasi. At first some really good 
work was done, especially in altering the conditions under 
which men were admitted to the priesthood, and also in 
raising the low moral tone of the clergy. 

Not less drastic were the Tsar's actions with regard to 
monastic communities, which he refrained from totally 
abohshing only because of the necessity for a supply of bishops, 
who were alwaj^^s elected from among monks. The census 
of 1722 proved that in these monastic estabhshments 14,534 
men and 10,673 women were shirking social responsibihties 
as regards the increase of the population, and also that the 
immense possessions owned by nunneries and monasteries 
were so much dead capital. To turn these properties to 
economic advantage the Tsar not only taxed them heavily, 
but also put them under Governmental administration, and, 
apportioning a fixed sum for the support of the monks and 
nuns, he confiscated the surplus towards the education of the 

But even this was not sufficient for the Imperial Reformer : 
these drones had to be coerced into productive acti\aty — he 
forced them to manage and keep up hospitals and schools, 
and also to care for disabled soldiers. It is hardly to be 
wondered at that a feeling of keen resentment, developing 


into bitter hatred, was thus engendered in the monastic 
world. Monks, priests, and nuns hated the Tsar for the 
drastic way in which he turned their indolence into energy. 
But Peter beheved in work — beheved " that man ought to 
eat his bread in the sweat of his brow." 

In spite of the unbridled licentiousness of the Tsar's 
personal Hfe, he seems to have had a very clear perception of 
spiritual truth, and therefore he desired a more thorough 
religious instruction for his nation. He hated hypocrisy — 
to him rehgion and morahty were synonymous ; he wished 
his people to be taught what was real and true, and this 
could only be attained by means of spiritual and mental 

Peter reahsed the appalUng rehgious ignorance of the 
people, as did the Danish Ambassador, who wrote that in 
Russia adults knew less of rehgion than children of three years 
in Denmark. The Tsar insisted on a more inteUigent worship, 
and commanded the people to attend church every Sunday 
and on all hohdays, but there was also pohtical wisdom in 
this order, as all ukasi had to be read in the churches. He 
altered the traditional rehgious values, and taught that to do 
one's work on earth well was of greater merit than to excel 
in the outward forms of worship, whether of God in ritual 
or of the Tsar by a servile prostration before him, as was 
the custom since the Tatar days. In one of his writings 
he says : "If equal honour is accorded to the Tsar and to 
God, what difiference is there then between the two ? Let 
there be less cringing and more whole-hearted service, more 
sincerity, more honesty towards me and my Empire. That 
is the honour which is due to the Tsar — ^not prostrations ! " 
Also that "not the outward observance of ritual and fasting 
but the inward attitude of humility and contrition " was the 
right means of approaching God. 

The clergy were incensed against the Tsar, not only by his 
social and educational reforms, but especially by his personal 
attitude towards the rules of the Church — his disregard of the 
prescribed fasts, etc. In his character and manner of life 
Peter the Great presented a perfectly new type of Tsar, 
absolutely different from his predecessors, in whom the theo- 


cratic element seemed to have overshadowed the adminis- 
trative, while Peter's virile nature rebelled against asceticism. 
In an ecclesiastical indictment against him this fact was thus 
described : " What a difference between this Tsar and his 
predecessors ! The former undertook pilgrimages to monas- 
teries for purposes of prayer and devotion, while this one 
visits the ' German suburb ' of Moscow ! " 

The secularisation of the Church, which Peter had brought 
about by the aboUtion of the Patriarchate and by the creation 
of the Holy Synod, had offended the clergy ; nevertheless 
the Church in speaking for herself also voiced the people's 
opposition to his reforms. The monks who from their ceUs 
wrote pamphlets against the Tsar as Antichrist had apparent 
facts to offer in support of their beHef. The change which 
perhaps most upset the ignorant people, both lay and clerical, 
was the Tsar's alteration of the calendar, for up to that time 
the 3'ear had been reckoned as dating from the creation of 
the world, beginning from the first of September (when apples 
were ripe !). It is a pity that Peter adopted the Juhan 
instead of the Gregorian calendar, for thus, ever since, his 
country has lagged several days behind the rest of Europe. 
This change of the calendar was considered proof positive 
that " the years of the Lord had passed," and " that the 
reign of Satan had begun." Again, with regard to the com- 
mand to shave, had not God made man in His own image ? 
Were not God the Father and God the Son always depicted 
in the ikons with long beards ? Was it not unchristian to 
compel men to shave and cut off their beards and thus efface 
the Hkeness of God ? The little cross, too, that was branded 
on the left hand of recruits (to prevent desertion), was it not 
surely the " mark of the beast " ? When, in addition to 
shaving, short coats and smoking became the order of the 
day, the opinion held by the ignorant masses was confirmed. 
SpHtting the nose had been the punishment meted out by the 
Tsar's father for smoking, and here was the son actually 
legahsing such a heathen practice ! 

The Church was scandalised by these innovations, and it 
deeply resented the religious toleration the Tsar extended to 
foreigners, as weU as his lenient attitude towards Russian 


sectarians. Peter, however, persisted in this poHcy, for he 
knew that unless he guaranteed rehgious Uberty to the many 
foreigners whom he had invited and drawn into Russia, he 
could not expect men worth having to settle in his dominions. 
He therefore granted them freedom and every facihty for 
worship ; he even gave them grants of land in his new capital 
for the erection of their churches, but he prohibited any 
attempt at proselytising. 

On his journeys abroad the Tsar frequently visited churches 
of other creeds, and this again was a scandal to his co-rehgion- 
ists. On one occasion in Poland, when asked to use his 
influence to bring about a union between the two Catholic 
Churches, the Tsar wisely replied : " It is true that God has 
given princes power over 
people, but over the con- 
sciences of people Christ 
alone rules, and a union of 
Churches can come about 
only by the will and action 
of God." 

In regard to the schis- T"''' "Gkandfa™ o.- the Russian 

matic Old BeKeverS, who (The Llttle English boat "liioliinspiiedPeter the 
, - , • 1 -I Great to build his navy.) 

had been so violently per- 
secuted during his father's reign, he followed a pohcy of 
laissez jaire. He told the Church that kindness was a better 
way of reclaiming the erring than persecution; that if people 
could not be persuaded by means of reason, they would not 
change their faith for fire and sword ; besides this, he would not 
increase their national importance by making martyrs of them. 
The Tsar's compelling energy proved a strain on the more 
indolent and phlegmatic members of the aristocracy, and he 
knew that unless he estabHshed his reforms on a secure basis, 
they would collapse on his death. The spread of education was 
the means he emploj^ed to prevent this threatened calamity. 
It was this attempt at compulsory education which chiefly 
offended the sensibilities of his people : his views on the 
matter were diametrically opposed to those of the clergy — the 
guardians of Russia's salvation and integrity — and his few 
ecclesiastical supporters hailed from Kiev, where progressive 



Latin influences predominated. While to the Tsar science 
was the jemmy which was to break open the lock of the iron 
gates behuid which his nation had been kept for centuries in 
utter darkness, all its latent treasures of mind and soul hidden 
from sight, to his opponents science was merely an instru- 
ment of the Evil One. 

The Oriental habit of dolce far niente hitherto prevalent 
in Russia had inevitably led to mental stagnation. Out 
of this state of inaction the powerful hand of the great 
master mind washed to draw his people with one mighty 
pull ; he therefore sent young noblemen abroad to study 
science, and insisted upon education for the children of 
Government officials. AU servants of the State were forced 
to have their children educated ; for unless they were able 
to read and wTite, or had mastered a craft the acquisition 
of which had occupied their time too fully to admit of book- 
learning, they were prohibited from marrying. lUiterate 
sons of priests were made soldiers for life. 

The Tsar set up several printing-presses, which turned out 
innumerable school-books ; and in order to faciHtate hteracy 
the Tsar himself simpHfied the Slavonic alphabet, and by mak- 
ing certain omissions, alterations, and additions, he created 
the present Russian script. With keen interest he watched 
over the production of the first book in this simplified letter- 
ing, correcting the proofs with his own hands. In his zeal 
for education he created an Academy of Science even before 
any of his schools w^ere founded. 

The great German savant Leibnitz, whose advice the 
Tsar followed in matters scientific, encouraged him to have 
geographical researches made ; consequently explorations 
into unknown parts of Siberia were undertaken and scientific 
expeditions made, one of which resulted in the discovery of 
the Behring Straits, which had once been visited by a Cossack, 
Denis Disjnev, in 1642. 

The Tsar also commanded the systematic collection of 
natural history specimens, of rare documents, etc. He took 
a personal interest in the compilation of a history of Russia, 
had many books translated into Russian, and by every means 
fostered intellectual culture. It became the fashion among 


the wealthier nobles to have their children instructed by 
foreign tutors and governesses. Thus gradually the mental 
lethargy of ages was shaken off. Those who had been sent 
abroad for their studies showed themselves adaptable and 
speedily acquired European manners and methods which, 
on their return, they introduced into their own homes. 

This sudden spread of education among the nobility created 
entirely new conditions. The mental homogeneity of the 
Russian nation was broken up, for until Peter, by sheer force, 
dragged his aristocracy and his officials into enlightenment 
the whole nation was on the same dead level of ignorance. 
Hitherto master and serf, mistress and " waiting woman," 
had been separated from one another by economic conditions 
only, and not by difference in culture. Now, however, a 
differentiation began which rapidly developed into great 
educational progress for the upper classes, while the masses 
were left in their former deplorable state of ignorance. 

The reforms of Peter the Great influenced nearly every 
sphere of national and political life, yet he left the basis of 
all national welfare — the peasantry — practically untouched. 
All he did for them was to pass certain laws which were 
intended to ameliorate their lot, such as the prohibition of 
the sale of serfs apart from the land on which they lived, and 
of the selling separately of individual members of a family 
— laws which were often evaded. On the other hand, he 
increased their master's power over them by instituting the 
system of passports, thanks to which escaped serfs could be 
more easily caught and returned to their owners. 

He did not change the old village organisation of the Mir, 
although he introduced individual taxation by " soul," as 
male serfs came to be designated, instead of by " community." 

Of the Russian peasants the French Ambassador wrote : 
" Serfdom and tyranny have robbed them of the capacity 
to work sensibly and well so as to try and better their con- 
dition." Centuries of exploitation, cruelty, and selfishness 
on the part of the masters had given the people their belief 
embodied in the proverb that " Heaven is high and the Tsar 
far away " — ^that there was no help of redress for them. 

The only excuse for this omission on the part of the 


Imperial master-builder is the fact that, in his haste to con- 
struct a wonderful edifice, he gave more time to the erection 
of the pillars than to the foundation, which urgently required 

Two important pillars — the Church and the nobility — 
Peter succeeded in reconstructing ; two others — the army and 
the navy — he had to build up from their very foundation. 
Whereas in 1696 he had been able to lead only four regiments 
against Azov, at the end of his reign his army numbered 
210,000 infantry, with ten cavalry regiments, and 109,000 
Cossacks. The Tsar had come to realise that the " armed 
men," which up till then were all that Russia had been able 
to put into the field, could not expect to fight successfully with 
the trained soldiers of the European Powers. He therefore 
abolished the Streltzi and the other military bodies hitherto 
employed by the State, and introduced an army of conscripts 
who had to sign on for life ; and strict rules as to the manner of 
recruiting were issued by the Tsar. Officers were either to be 
trained at home as cadets in the Guards or sent abroad to join 
foreign armies on active service for practical study in strategy. 

With regard to the navy his success was beyond all ex- 
pectation. The English sailing-boat which had been the 
means of arousing his curiosity and interest in shipbuilding 
inspired him to construct a fleet, which at the end of his reign 
consisted of twelve hundred galleys and ships of the line, 
manned by twenty thousand sailors. His naval officers were 
trained abroad or in the Naval College he established in 
St Petersburg. Here, under the directorship of a Frenchman, 
with a staff of English teachers, the naval cadets were 

In every department Peter carried out the following wise 
scheme : — expert foreigners were given the position of guiding 
and controlling advisers, with a Russian as ostensible head 
and Russians as subordinates. In this way the national 
susceptibilities were not offended : the hated foreigner was 
kept in the background, and only instructed and advised the 
Russians how to act for themselves. This system proved 
very successful, the second generation being in most cases 
able to dispense with foreign assistance. 


The prevalent animosity to foreigners as such was a sign 
of the Orientalisation of the Russian nation, and during his 
reign the Tsar put down in a drastic manner several anti- 
foreign riots, such as take place in China to this day. 

Peter created the Senate, whose function it was to act as 
supreme tribunal, to see to the general welfare of the country, 
and to assist the Tsar in the administration of the realm. 
He abolished the Council of the Boyars and replaced it by 
this permanent body of appointed Senators, whose duty it 
was to find sources of revenue for the army, as well as to 
provide for an increase of its personnel ; further, the Senate 
was to act as intermediary between the Tsar and the newly 
created Governors of provinces, who replaced the former 

For the better administration of the realm he copied 
the Swedish system of Government departments or " Colleges," 
which, however, owing to the lack of efficient natives, had 
to be presided over at the start by foreigners, and even by 
Swedish prisoners of war. Such was the irony of fate ! 

Civic life, too, had to be placed on a sounder basis, and 
municipal reforms, modelled on German lines, were intro- 
duced. The urban population was divided into three classes : 
the first included merchants, physicians, chemists, engineers, 
and shipbuilders ; the second, shopkeepers and artisans ; 
and the third consisted of all the people who did not come 
under any of these descriptions. Peter also introduced 
guilds for the better regulation of arts and crafts, and for 
the artisans " trade corporations." 

In the sphere of finance, too, Peter made various changes : 
to the silver currency were added gold and copper, and the 
Oriental habit of cutting or scooping silver out of the coins 
was prohibited. In order to increase the revenue of his 
impoverished Empire the Tsar reorganised its fiscal system : 
he abolished all exemption from taxes hitherto enjoyed by 
certain privileged classes and individuals, and introduced 
direct taxation ; he imposed a heavy duty on foreign luxuries, 
but, very wisely, none on raw material. 

Anxious to create new sources of wealth, as well as to utilise 
those already existing, the Tsar urged upon his ministers the 


necessity for developing commerce and industry, with the 
satisfactory result that two hundred factories were estab- 
lished during his reign. To stimulate the mining industry 
many new mines were opened in Siberia and elsewhere, 
while owners of land in which minerals were known to exist 
were flogged and even threatened with the death penalty if 
they would not exploit their mineral wealth. 

For agriculture Peter was not able to do so much, but he 
commanded the scythe to be used instead of the sickle, and 
introduced vines, mulberry trees, and the tobacco plant. He 
also encouraged systematic breeding of horses and cattle. 

Agricultural,commercial,and industrial enterprise, however, 
required greater facilities for communication than existed at 
the time. Accordingly, the far-seeing monarch planned a 
system of canals by which the White Sea and the Gulf of 
Finland, the Black Sea and the Caspian, were to be united. 

Unfortunately, there was constant leakage from the 
treasury, due to the dishonesty of the officials, and to put 
an end to this the Tsar used violent measures ; for instance, 
informers against such offenders were promised the official 
position of the culprit, a policy which created a demoralising 
system of espionage. The Tsar also appointed a " Fiscal 
Chief," whose duty it was to safeguard the revenue by waging 
war against the appalling corruption rife amongst officials of 
every grade. The most flagrant example was that of Prince 
Gagarin, Governor of Siberia, who had not only monopolised 
the trade with China, but had bribed his subordinates to 
support him in his corrupt practices : even Senators and 
members of the " Colleges " were implicated in this scandal. 

Against so deep-rooted and far-spread an evil only the 
severest punishment could prove efiFectual, and, although 
Gagarin confessed his misdeeds, offering to resign and spend 
the remainder of his life in a monastery, he was executed 
as a warning to others. Perhaps the greatest cause of cor- 
ruption was the fact that little or no salary had hitherto 
been paid to the Government officials ; extortion was thus 
their only means of securing a livelihood — indeed, it was actu- 
ally reduced to a system which was caUed " Kormlenie " or 
" process of nourishing." 


How deeply the Tsar felt these abuses is apparent from 
his instruction to the Minister of Finance commanding the 
issue of an ukase to the effect that any official found stealing 
even as much as would buy a rope was to be hanged. The 
minister's reply illustrates existing conditions : " Sire, do 
you reaUy want to be a ruler without servants or subjects ? 
We aU steal. The only difference is that some do it less 
openly than others ! " 

The task of the " Fiscal Chief " was indeed a gigantic 
one, and if he employed barbarous methods it can hardly 
excite wonder. 

All these economic and administrative measures, introduced 
for the purpose of increasing and safeguarding the national 
income, resulted in an increase of revenue, which during the 
years 1710-1725 rose from three million to ten million roubles. 

The genius of Peter led him to see clearly that his reforms 
could not be carried out except by men of higher culture 
than Russia at that time was able to produce. Yet 
although political and administrative systems could be re- 
organised by imported helpers, the moral life of the nation 
could develop only in course of time : it was possible for 
the Tsar to create industry and commerce by means of ukasi, 
he could not by any order, however stringent, create an 
upright personnel. He did his utmost to eradicate corruption 
and bribery, yet even his friend and favourite Mentchikov 
was not blameless in this respect. 

In order to ensure the safety of unarmed citizens Peter 
established a regular police force, whose duty it was to put 
down the robbers who infested the streets of his towns ; but 
when even noblemen had to be prevented from acting as 
highwaymen, it was moral regeneration, not police regulation, 
which was wanted. 

The Tsar realised that more was required for the healthy 
development of a nation than merely military and admini- 
strative organisation ; he felt that the family and social life 
of his people was in equal need of his careful attention. 

Russian society had hitherto been based on the Oriental 
plan of the separation of the sexes in public life, and was 
therefore suffering from the evils inherent in such an un- 


natural system. Marriage customs were in harmony with 
the low conception of morality. After a match had been 
arranged by the professional go-between, the prospective 
bride had to pass a minute physical inspection, a custom 
which was open to abuse ; it happened not infrequently 
that at this inspection a different girl was substituted for 
the real bride, who might be deformed or much older, and 
whom the bridegroom saw for the first time after the marriage 
ceremony. Peter altered this custom by a law which made 
it compulsory for the betrothed to meet each other every 
day for six weeks, either party being at liberty to dissolve 
the engagement at the end of this period if he or she wished. 

He also abolished the inhuman practice of killing deformed 
and illegitimate children. 

The Oriental system had been as fatal to the men as to the 
women, Russian men had become coarse, brutal, and licentious. 
In order to change all this and to create and foster a normal 
social life such as the Tsar had witnessed in foreign countries, 
he organised so-called " Assemblies." These social gatherings, 
to which the nobles were obliged to bring their wives and 
daughters, were arranged by the Tsar and by the chief of police, 
and took place at various private houses in St Petersburg. 
At these parties card-playing was prohibited, but other games, 
such as draughts and chess, were encouraged. Dancing was 
especially favoured by the Tsar ; he had learned that art 
while abroad, and now taught it personally to his aristocracy. 

With the introduction of Western social life went the 
adoption of Western clothing ; by order of the Tsar the loose, 
flowing Oriental garments were replaced by the rococo 
costume — even the ordinary citizen was obliged to shorten 
his coat to the knee. In his poUtical pamphlet, The Right 
of the Monarch's Will, Prokopovitch, the apologist of Peter 
the Great, contends that the Tsar had the right to alter 
" every rite, civil and rehgious ; every custom, whether in 
the wearing of dresses or in the building of houses ; every 
kind of ceremony and prescribed form at festivities, nuptials, 
burials, etc. . . ." 

The coercive methods by means of wliich the Tsar trans- 
formed the social customs of his nobiHty had the desired 


effect : they created a perfectly new atmosphere — the fresh 
air of progress and culture found free entrance into the 
hitherto airtight compartments of Russian society. He 
released the victims from their Oriental chains and set them 
free by his word of authority. 

The reforms of Peter the Great, influencing as they did 
every sphere of the nation's Ufe, were not drawn up according 
to a clearly defined plan, but were introduced as necessity 
arose. Some were the logical outcome of a previous reform, 
others were sprung upon the people suddenly and without 
warning. Many of his foreign contemporaries at that 
time in Russia reahsed that most of the Tsar's reforms were 
the natural outcome of his military experiences ; for the 
external security and the internal prosperity of his country 
were interdependent — upon both of them rested Russia's 
position as a world Power. 

The Enghsh engineer Perry, who spent sixteen years in 
Russia, clearly perceived this close connection between the 
foreign poHcy and the internal reforms of the Tsar. He wrote 
that " defeat instead of victory at Poltava would have resulted 
in a revolution which would have forced the Tsar to give up 
all thought of reform and to let the Russian people relapse 
into their former state of ignorance and superstition ; he 
would have been compelled to expel all foreigners, as the 
Russians could not endure them." 

Although the reforms of Peter the Great excite genuine 
admiration, they also call forth criticism, especially as to the 
manner in which they were introduced ; but it is impossible 
for any man to accomphsh so much in the short period of 
thirty- three years without exposing himself to severe criticism. 
The reforms of the Tsar were Uke his nature — quick, decisive, 
drastic, often even revolutionary though introduced by the 
Autocrat of All the Russias. 

His programme was not contrary to the principles 
held in the abstract by his immediate predecessors. His 
father and grandfather, and still earher Boris Godounov and 
the pseudo-Dmitri, had begun to turn their gaze Westwards, 
and certain members of the Russian aristocracy, such as the 
great GoHtzin, his sister's adviser, had strongly favoured a 


rapprochement with Western Europe, But this in no way 
lessens the tremendous importance of Peter's activity. Even 
if some of his measures only carried on and developed what 
had before existed in embryo, still there is a fundamental 
difference between the purely theoretical interest taken by 
the fatlier in certain matters and the personal practical execu- 
tion of them by the son. For example, the Tsar Alexei went 
no further in his desire for a fleet than to order an English 
saihng-boat as model and to build one ship, the Eagle ; it 
was his son who actually created the navy. 

However open to criticism Peter's reforms may have been, 
as too superficial in some instances or too drastic in others, 
yet he did transform Russia from a negHgible half-Asiatic 
State into a European Power. 

The people groaned and the nobles chafed under his 
high-handed measures : many cherished illusions were 
shattered and many vested interests attacked, but the fact 
remains that he succeeded in estabhshing reforms which 
effectually prevented his people from sinking back into the 
state in which he had found them. While rescuing a man 
who is fast sinking in a quagmire, the rescuer cannot be over- 
particular about his grip — he may pull out some handfuls of 
hair or infhct a bruise in extricating the helpless one from a 
perilous position ; nor must he be blamed if mud still clings 
to the sufferer whom he has dragged into safety by sheer force. 

It was impossible for Peter the Great to lift his people out 
of the morass of Tatarisation into which the Mongol rule 
had plunged them without doing some harm, it was not his 
fault if the Russian nation, even after his energetic handling, 
still retained traces of barbarism in its habits and manners. 

There can be no doubt as to the national importance of 
Peter the Great : friend and foe aHke accord his genius the 
fullest recognition. To give unquahfied praise to his per- 
sonal character is unfortunately impossible, for, as a German 
contemporary expressed it, " He is a very good man and a 
very bad man ! " In a word, he had aU the vices of his 
virtues, and, although in many ways in advance of his time, 
he was after all the product of that ancient Russia whose 
unbridled Ucentiousness horrified the more self-restramed 


foreigners. The excesses of Peter's life, the barbaric manner 
in which he compelled people to drink spirits, his attacks of 
fury, excite disgust, and his ruthless treatment of opponents 
and intriguers cannot fail to horrify. The national coarse- 
ness and brutality were only too apparent in this great 
reformer, who did his utmost to change his nation, while 
himself he could not change. 

It should be no reproach that he was not always suc- 
cessful, that his hasty reforms only covered the upper classes 
with a kind of social veneer. The marvel is that Peter the 
Great accomphshed as much as he did, for he attempted 
in three decades what it had taken other nations centuries 
to attain. His failings and excesses were temporary — they 
ended with his Hfe, his ideals and achievements remain for all 
time, and their influence will be felt as long as the Russian 
nation exists. Their last ruler of purely Slav extraction, he 
set his people an example of industry, activity, and personal 
devotion to an ideal. The first servant of his subjects, his life 
was spent " in labours more abundant." 

The Original House of Peter the 
Great in St Petersburg. 




Although Peter the Great had not appointed an heir, his 
friends and ministers settled the question even before he had 
breathed his last, and the moment after his death, his wiie 
Catherine was proclaimed, not Regent on behalf of her late 
husband's grandson, but Empress in her own right. This was 
a tremendous blow to the Old Russian party, which had hoped 
for a reversion of pohcy under the regency of Peter's divorced 
wife, the nun, on behalf of her grandson Ivan, a lad of 
eight years. But Catherine enjoyed the support of official 
Russia as represented by the men whom Peter the Great 
had raised to power, whose interest lay in carrying on his 

Chief among them were Prince Mentchikov and Baron 
Ostermann, who, although enemies to each other, showed a 
united front to the Boyar party. The army also whole- 
heartedly acclaimed Catherine as Empress : the soldiers 
loved their great leader's vaHant comrade ; to them she was 
a real soldier's wife, one whom they could understand and 

During the two years of Catherine's reign (1725-1727) 
Mentchikov reached the zenith of his career. Its only blot 
was his boundless greed, but for which the aU-powerful 
minister ruled Russia wisely on behalf of his Imperial mistress. 
These two — the erstwhile vendor of patties, and Catherine, 
the serf girl, nurserymaid to a pastor's children, then captive 
of^war of Field -marshal Cheremetiev, from whom she was 
taken by Mentchikov and ultimately passed on to the Tsar 



— these two parvenus ruled Russia together for two years, 
faithfully carrying on the poHcy of their common friend and 

Of all Peter's many friends these two were his nearest 
and dearest, and the keen connoisseur of character was not 
disappointed in those he had raised to such a height. The 
iUiterate captive of war did not only momentarily take the 
Tsar's fancy with her good looks at the age of seventeen or 
eighteen ; it was her tact, shrewdness, common sense, and 
insight into human nature which permanently endeared 
her to her lord. She knew how to manage his untamed 
nature ; she entered intelHgently into all his interests, sharing 
all his plans and work ; in a word, she made a perfect com- 
panion for the Great Tsar. 

The only change the Empress introduced during her reign 
was the abolition of the prefix " governing" in the titles of 
Senate and Synod, vesting all authority in the High Privy 
Council, composed of her late husband's fellow-workers and 
presided over by herself. 

The unpleasant fact must be recorded that the Empress's 
reign came to an untimely end through dropsy brought on by 
excessive drinking. Her great minister's career was longer 
by only a few more months. 

During her reign she drew various members of her family, 
simple Livonian peasants, into the Court, made her sisters 
and brothers-in-law counts, and arranged marriages for their 
children. On her death-bed she appointed the grandson of 
Peter the Great, Peter Alexeievitch, as her successor ; but he 
was to rule under the regency of a Council, which was to 
consist of her two daughters, Anna and Elizabeth, the 
husband of the former, the Grand Duke of Holstein, and the 
members of the High Privy Council. By this arrangement 
the claims of the two great factions were to be reconciled. 
The hitherto omnipotent minister Mentchikov, or " The 
Prince," as he was called, took good care to keep the young 
Tsar well under his eye : he made him live with him in 
his own palace, and forced him to become engaged to his 
daughter, who was several years his senior. In his unbridled 
ambition Mentchikov went so far as to sign his letters to 


PeU>r II. simply "your father," in anticipation of the Tsar's 
btH'cMning his son-in-law. 

IVtor II. (1727-1730) was of a different temperament 
and disposition from his father, the unhappy Tsarevitch 
Alexei, to whom theological arguments and a dreamy existence 
had appealed more than reahty and activity, while his son 
was manly and enjoyed sport and all mihtary exercises. This 
naturally mdependent nature was supported in rebeUion 
agamst the strict guardianship of " The Prince " by his 
favourite sister Natalia and his merry young aunt Ehzabeth, 
and also b}^ his tutor, the great diplomatist of Peter the 
Great's reign — Baron Ostermann. 

Mentchikov's avarice, in addition to his unwise treatment 
of the Tsar, led to his downfall. The boy Tsar, exasperated 
by a counter order of his minister, suddenly asserted his 
authority, and by a coup d'etat the Prince was deprived of 
his power, his immense fortune of twelve million roubles 
confiscated, and he himself banished to his estate in the 
province of Ryazan. All the vexation endured in the past by 
the young Tsar now found expression in his treatment of the 
ex-minister. Mentchikov, with his whole family, was exiled 
to Siberia, where an allowance of ten roubles (about twenty 
shillings) a day was all they were given for subsistence. 

In exile the moral greatness of Peter's friend and feUow 
worker, lowered as it had been by the exercise of unlimited 
power, showed itself again. There in Siberia he worked as 
a carpenter, as he had done side by side with his great 
master in Holland long ago ; he built himself a little wooden 
church, in which were buried, in 1729, the remains of one 
of the most striking personalities of his time. 

With the faU of Mentchikov a period of palace revolutions, 
of cabals and intrigues set in. In wearying succession of 
plot and counterplot great Russian families rise to power only 
to be replaced for a time by more successful rivals. It seemed 
as if the great reformer's lifework might be swept away by 
those currents which whirled around the edifice of empire 
raised by his genius. The young Tsar, however, only changed 
masters when he banished Mentchikov, for the powerful 
family of the Dolgorouki, the ex-minister's bitter enemies, 


took the reins into their own hands. They arranged and 
tried to hurry him into a marriage with Catherine Dolgorouki, 
but this arrangement the young Tsar rejected. Though they 
indulged his tastes in every way, their persistent supervision 
became a weariness to him, and when, therefore, they com- 
mitted the tactical mistake of restraining the expenditure of 
the Tsar's beloved aunt Elizabeth, their downfall was decided 
upon and was only averted by the death of Peter II., the 
last male representative of the Romanoffs, who was carried 
off by smallpox. 

The only other direct representatives of this dynasty were : 
Elizabeth, Peter the Great's daughter, his grandson Peter 
(son of his deceased daughter Anna of Holstein-Gottorp), 
and the two married daughters of his elder brother Ivan — 
Anna, Duchess of Courland, and Catherine, Duchess of 

The evil consequences resulting from the abrogation of the 
former laws of succession by Peter the Great now became 
apparent : these ladies of the house of Romanoff could all 
claim equal rights to the throne through their common 
grandfather, the Tsar Alexei MikhaUovitch. Russian public 
opinion, however, wavered between Peter's grandson, the 
young Duke of Holstein, and the great Tsar's daughter 
Ehzabeth, whose sunny nature and bonhomie made her a 
general favourite. 

Before a decision was arrived at, the High Privy Council 
framed, and attempted to estabhsh in Russia, as in Poland, 
an oligarchy with an elected monarch as figurehead. Ignoring 
the more direct heirs of Peter's line, they approached the 
Duchess of Courland as representative of the line of his 
elder brother Ivan. The Privy Council, now composed 
entirely of men of the anti-reform party, offered her the 
crown of Russia if she would agree to eight conditions. 
Some of these would have greatly benefited the nation, for 
instance that no subject should be punished nor his property 
confiscated until after a regular procedure in the courts of 
justice. The document embodied a kind of constitution, in 
imitation of that of England. Yet the promoters of the 
" oligarchical republic " aimed not at progress but at re- 


action. They longed to change the capital back to Moscow. 
St Petersburg, with all it stood for — army, navy, foreign 
relations — was to be relegated to the background and the 
old regime would flourish once more. 

Tlie choice of Anna Ivanovna as Empress was opposed 
by all who realised that Russia's security was jeopardised 
by a return to pre-Petrine conditions ; she also had the 
clergy and the lesser nobility against her. Nevertheless, 
the crown was offered to her, and she accepted it with 
all conditions attached, including even the proviso that 
she would forfeit the crown of Russia if she did not keep all 
the conditions to which she had set her signature. Accom- 
panied by eight regiments, she entered Moscow and was 
crowned in the Kremlin. 

With the assistance of the Metropolitan, who had warned 
her that under the new arrangements the Crown would be 
robbed of authority and would come under the domination 
of the Golitzins and Dolgoroukis, she succeeded in duping 
everybody. Neither the reform party nor the lesser nobles 
but the absolutist party gained the day, and Anna was pro- 
claimed Autocrat of All the Russias. 

For ten years (1730-1740) this hard-featured, deep-voiced 
woman ruled over Russia, gaining by her fiendish cruelty the 
name of " Anna the Bloody." Against those who tried to 
curtail her prerogative or who had opposed her accession 
to the throne her revenge was simply feline. She enjoyed 
torturing her adversaries by meting out punishment in small 
doses : deposition from ofl&ce, confiscation of property, banish- 
ment, and not seldom mutilation, would follow in grim 
succession. Two hundred thousand condemnations for 
political offences are recorded for this decade (1730-1740), 
and Siberia became the place of abode for many of the highest 
Russian aristocrats. Anna seems to have taken Ivan the 
Terrible as her model, and in her hands brutahty became 
a fine art. 

The Empress was encouraged in her coarse and wicked 
life by her lover, Biron. She had raised him, the grandson 
of a groom, to the position of Chamberlain, and after the 
death of the last Duke of Courland she succeeded in investing 


her low-born lover with that title. The Baltic nobility, 
who had spurned the parvenu and refused to acknowledge 
him as an equal, were now forced to elect him as their 

The Empress made St Petersburg once more the capital and 
created a " Cabinet " on the German model, filling her Court 
with Germans, who were readily welcomed by the late Tsar 
Peter's two eminent German collaborators, Ostermann and 
Miinich. The former used all his influence to weaken the 
alliance with France and to draw Russia into a closer union 
with Austria — which country, he maintained, was better able 
to assist Russia against Poland and Turkey. For the Polish 
question had by this time become acute, and France was 
favouring Stanislav Lesczynski, while Russia was supporting 
the candidature of his rival, August of Saxony. 

Russia, at the cost of surrendering her Persian posses- 
sions acquired by Peter the Great, had made a defensive 
alliance with Persia against Turkey. 

It was General Miinich who won Russia's victories at 
Dantzig on the Baltic and at Perekop in the Crimea ; but 
the loss of one hundred thousand men seems too great a price 
for victories which were completely nullified by the reverses 
and the treacherous policy of her ally Austria. 

Austria's attitude towards Russia was undergoing a rapid 
change, owing to fear lest her Eastern neighbour should 
become a menace to her own empire. There was always the 
danger of Russia finding support among her co-religionists in 
the Balkan States, which were under Austrian rule, and that 
she might even aspire to the possession of Constantinople. 

These fears, and maybe French gold as well, helped to 
influence the issues of the war with Turkey ; and, by the 
Treaty of Belgrad, and later on by that of Constantinople, 
Russia was deprived of all that she had gained in Miinich 's 
successful campaign. The only thing she secured from Turkey 
was the official recognition of the designation " Russia " in 
place of the obsolete name of " Muscovy." 

During the reign of the Empress Anna the life of the 
Russian people was " more unhappy than that of dogs," 
and it seemed as if the overpowering influence of the Empress's 



German cntourmje would altogether oust the Slav element. 
So intensely coarse and brutal was tlie rule of Biron and her 
other German favourites that Russian history designates 
this period as that of the " German yoke." 

One beneficent act of this reign was the foundation of 
the " cadet corps," in which general knowledge was taught 
to the sons of nobles, though the prejudice against education 
was still as great as ever. 

The Empress Anna also entered into a commercial treaty 
with England, and increased her people's intercourse with 
China, for the subjection of the Kirghise had brought Russia 
into close touch with the Celestial Empire. 

The Empress provided an heir of her own choice : she 
called her iiiece, the Duchess of Braunschweig-Wolfenbiittel, 
with her husband to St Petersburg, and proclaimed their 
infant son heir to the throne. On her death-bed she appointed 
her low-born lover, Biron, Duke of Courland, Regent for the 
infant Ivan VI. (1740-1741). 

To all intents and purposes Russia served as pasture-land 
or gold-mine for the Germans, who enriched themselves by 
impoverishing the people. A reaction, however, was setting 
in — jealousies between the Cabinet Ministers prepared the 
way for a palace revolution. Everybody hated Biron, who 
terrorised not only the parents of the infant Emperor but 
the whole nation : during his rule over ten thousand persons 
were put to death. 

Gradually four parties developed at Court. The first 
consisted of those Germans whose interests required that 
power should remain in Biron's hands, and against these 
were the supporters of the Tsar's parents. The two other 
parties were more national : one of them desired Peter the 
Great's grandson, Peter of Holstein-Gottorp, as ruler, while 
the fourth party favoured Elizabeth, the great reformer's 

Biron's cup of iniquity was full, and the popular indigna- 
tion found an outlet in risings and military riots. A palace 
revolution resulted in the transfer of the Regency to the 
mother of the infant Tsar. Field-marshal Munich was the 
chief instrument in this coup d'etat, by which suddenly, in 


Tatars of the Mongol Period. 


the dead of night, the all-powerful Regent Biron was seized 
and deprived of his position as well as of his possessions. 
History repeats itself ; as when Mentchikov fell, so now no 
one was found ready to stand by the fallen statesman. The 
sentence of death passed upon him by a special Council was, 
however, commuted into one of exile to Siberia by the 
Grand Duchess of Russia, Anna Leopoldovna, the new 
Regent (1740-1741). 

Miinich, the chief stage-manager to this drama, was 
disappointed in his expectations ; the Regent's husband, 
and not he, was made Generalissimo of the army, and he 
found himself intrigued against by his colleague and rival. 
Baron Ostermann, who, though appointed High Admiral, 
was still allowed to direct the foreign policy of the 
Empire. Baron Ostermann favoured Prussia, while the 
Regent clung to the Austrian alliance. Great complications 
arose from the fact that Russia's allies — Prussia and Austria 
— went to war with one another. Russia followed the 
double-faced policy of not siding definitely with one or the 
other, but temporising with both. At this point Sweden, 
egged on by France and hoping to regain all she had lost 
during Peter's reign, declared war on Russia, professedly 
in support of Elizabeth's claim to the throne. At that 
moment France sent as ambassador to St Petersburg the 
able diplomatist de la Chetardie, who from the first day of 
his arrival supported the Tsarevna Elizabeth, then the 
general favourite of the Russian people, and especially of 
the army. 

The Regent, Anna Leopoldovna, although warned by 
Miinich of Elizabeth's aspirations and machinations, was too 
indolent to take any notice, and continued her lazy and self- 
indulgent life. She even showed weariness of Miinich, the 
instrument of her elevation to power. Rivalry and jealousy 
grew rife, and French money freely distributed among the 
Guard regiments fostered their devotion for Elizabeth, who 
in 1741 engineered another coup d'etat, assisted by her 
various lovers and ex -lovers. 

Elizabeth Petrovna had the infant Emperor and his 
parents arrested, and with the enthusiastic approval and 

\:v2 A riiors.vxi) years of Russian history 

support of the army she assumed the dignity of Empress 
and Autocrat (1741-1702). The deposed Emperor, to whose 
infant mind nothing mattered, was sent to the fortress of 
Schliisselburg, while his parents were banished to Cholmogori 
in the extreme north of Russia. Here the ex-Regent died 
after live years' exile. 

Once again a special Council was called to try the ministers, 
Munich , Ostermann, and other partisans of the former regime, 
on fictitious charges, and all were condemned to death by 
torture and mutilation, but the Empress altered the sentence 
to one of banishment, for she had made a vow not to shed 
blood, and after her accession she liberated twenty thousand 
exiles and prisoners. 

Ostermann had to exchange the comfort and luxury of 
his palace at St Petersburg for the hardships of Bezerov, 
the very place in which his rival Mentchikov had ended his 
days. Munich was banished to Pelym, and as he was crossing 
Kazan his sledge met that of his hated antagonist Biron en 
route for Yaroslavl, in which place Elizabeth had granted him 
permission to settle. Silently the two deadly enemies bowed 
to each other as their sledges met and passed one another. 
Such is the irony of fate ! The one feU into the pit 
which he had dug for the other. Miinich went to spend 
most of his remaining days in exile in the house vacated 
by his rival. 

With the reign of the Empress Elizabeth a reaction 
against the German rule set in. She turned out the crowd 
of Germans and members of the Baltic nobility who had been 
filling every available position at Court, and generously re- 
warded her supporters, making ample provision for various 
lovers according to their political or military fitness : thus 
Voronzov was made Chancellor, and Razoumovski, the man 
she really loved, a Cossack of humble origin, she married 

It soon became apparent that the new Empress of Russia 
had inherited many of her father's statesmanlike qualities. 
She had the same power of discernment and insight into 
character, and although she made a clean sweep of her 
father's German officials, however capable, like Ostermann 


and Miinich, she made Bestujev, a Russian co-worker of her 
father, her adviser and minister. 

Although licentious in private life, Elizabeth proved herself 
a wise ruler, by whom her father's policy was carried out 
generously and well. Unfortunately, she inherited his strain 
of cruelty, which, combined with jealousy and a low standard 
of morality, led her to perpetrate some abominable brutalities. 
One of her failings was extravagance in dress, and after 
her death from fifteen to sixteen thousand dresses were 
found in her wardrobe. She loved pomp and show ; she 
was kind and amiable to her friends, but stern towards her 

In spite of many defects, she realised the necessity for 
progress, and in every way furthered education. In foreign 
policy she also followed in her father's footsteps. Her 
army fought successfully in Finland against the Swedes, but 
by the Treaty of Ab6 in 1743 she exchanged her military 
gains for diplomatic concessions, and Finland, after being 
devastated by the Russian troops, was once more restored to 

Later, during the Seven Years' War, the Empress took 
the part of Austria against Frederick the Great. Her reasons 
for doing so were more personal than diplomatic : not only 
did she dislike the King of Prussia because of his satires 
against her licentiousness, but she had a genuine sympathy 
for the IGng of Poland. At the same time she may have 
hoped for political advantages from her participation in 
the war. Her armies under Apraxin invaded Prussia, 
where the Cossacks soon became a terror to the people ; 
the memory of their cruelties survives to this day. Apraxin, 
however, did not follow up his successes, and recrossed 
the Russian frontier. The reason was that the Chancellor 
Bestujev, instead of entering whole - heartedly into his 
Imperial mistress's policy, carried on intrigues with Apraxin 
against the heir to the throne. The Grand Duke Peter 
of Holstein-Gottorp was an ardent admirer of the Prussian 
King ; of this fact the Chancellor made use in order to 
discredit him. 

The Empress, however, soon discovered Bestujev's 


intrigues witli the general, whom she sent into exile, while 
she eariied on her war against Prussia witli great vigour. 
Four times during the years 1759 to 17G1 the Russian troops 
under different generals invaded Germany, the allied armies 
of Austria and Russia even entering Berlin. 

Peter I., The Great (1689-1725). 
Catherine I. (1725-1727). 
Peter II. (1727-1730). 
Anna Ivanovna (1730-1740). 
Ivan V. (1740-1741). 
Elizabeth Petrovna (1741-1762). 



Although a grandson of Peter the Great, the heir to the 
Russian throne was to all intents and purposes a foreigner — 
a German. The young Duke of Holstein-Gottorp was, at 
the age of fourteen, chosen by his aunt, the Empress 
Elizabeth, as her heir, and brought to reside permanently 
in Russia. The Empress, however, kept him aloof from 
State affairs, and made no effort to fit him for his future task 
of ruling the Empire. Lazy and indolent, without inclination 
for study, he idled away his days drilling a company of Holstein 
soldiers which his aunt permitted him to maintain at Oranien- 
baum, his residence some miles from the capital. 

One reason for the Empress Elizabeth's capricious beha- 
viour towards him may have been his unbounded admiration 
for her bete noir, Frederick the Great. The Empress had 
banished the German element from her Court and had pro- 
moted Russians to places of power, while her heir showed 
predilection for all things German — a not unnatural taste, 
as his father, the Duke of Holstein, was a pure German. All 
Peter's boon companions were German officers, in whose 
society he led a dissolute life. Stupid and coarse by nature 
and instinct, he was specially unfitted to be the husband of 
the brilliant and clever young wife whom the Empress had 
chosen for him. 

Sophie, Princess of Anhalt-Zerbst, was only sixteen years 
old when the fateful selection was made. As future Empress 
of Russia she had to change her Protestant faith : she accepted 
the Greek Orthodox creed, and received the name of Catherine 
Alexeievna. Thanks to the careful education given her by 
her clever mother, she was not only well instructed, but also 



remarkably intelligent, handsome, good-natured, full of 
gaiety and good iuunour ; j'^et this charming, brilliant girl 
was forced to unite herself with the vulgar, stupid, pock- 
marked Duke of Holstein. It was impossible for so ill- 
matched a pair to be happy, and very soon an estrangement 
ensued. On her part, personal dislike developed into aversion 
and abhorrence ; and on his part, a boorish lack of sympathy 
turned into stupid resentment at her undeniable mental 
superiority. He treated her with brutal callousness, and 
humiliated her wherever and whenever he could. Gradually 
all pretence of being husband and wife was dropped, and 
the Grand Duke followed his disreputable inclinations 
without restraint. 

Catherine, who had come to the corrupt Russian Court a 
pure-minded girl, stood out for a long time against its evil 
influences. The Empress Elizabeth herself set a terrible 
example to both country and nation, her immoral habits 
being common knowledge. The licence she permitted herself 
was readily imitated by Russian society, and the marvel is 
that the young princess withstood for so many years all the 
temptations put in her way. Catherine, however, at that 
time cared for better things : she loved knowledge, and spent 
her time studying Greek and reading the writings of the 
French Encyclopaedists. In fact, she corresponded personally 
with Voltaire and Diderot, and was probably the most cultured 
and well-read person at the Court. 

During these years of self-education she prepared herself 
unwittingly for the great task she assumed later on. 
This extraordinarily ambitious and clever girl realised from 
the outset that to play a leading part in the country of 
her adoption she must not remain merely an imported 
foreigner, but must acquire the native language and merge 
herself in the life of the nation ; so she set herself to learn 
Russian, which she thoroughly mastered. In every way 
she fitted herself to fill worthily the position which had 
gradually become her aim and aspiration — that of Autocrat 
of All the Russias. She soon realised that her husband was 
utterly incapable of ruling, while she felt herself competent 
for the task. Others also came to the same conclusion : 



everybody at Court perceived her intellectual superiority to 
that of her husband, and foresaw that, although he might 
one day be Emperor in name, his wife would be the actual 
ruler. Thus it happened that after a time a party was 
formed which aimed at raising her to the supreme power. 
Chief among her supporters was the Princess Dashkov, a 
clever, brilliant woman whose whole-hearted devotion to 
Catherine made her ready to go to any lengths in her 
intrigues and machinations. 

Church of the 12th Century. 

Although the young Grand Duchess had kept her marriage- 
vow faithfully for many years, she succumbed at last to the 
evil influences around her, and from her twenty-fifth year 
she began that career of unbridled passion which for the 
next twenty-eight years made her notorious all over Europe, 
Her first lapse from virtue, however, was found out by her 
husband ; he complained to the Empress, who condemned 
the lover to banishment in Siberia, but the Chancellor, 
Bestujev, succeeded in sending young Saltykov abroad, 
ostensibly on a political mission. 

The tragedy of the Grand Ducal marriage reached an 
acute stage. Peter now publicly recognised Elizabeth Voron- 
zov, sister of the Princess Dashkov, as his mistress. Thus, 


whilo one sister cast in her lot with the husband, the other 
intrimuni against him on behalf of liis wife. Catherine's 
favourite at that time was a young Pole, Count Stanislav 
Poniatovski, whose career as her lover soon came to an end : 
he was obliged to flee into Poland to escape a flogging at the 
hands of her infuriated husband. 

The breach between the Grand Ducal couple had widened 
to such an extent that Peter unwisely mentioned to his 
entourage the possibility of repudiating Catherine and her son, 
the young Grand Duke Paul, while on her side, Catherine's 
dislike to her uncongenial husband had turned to hatred. 
When, therefore, the Chancellor suggested to her that Peter 
should, in case of the Empress's decease, be deposed and she 
appointed Regent during the minority of her son, she readily 
agreed. From that time Bestujev did all he could to 
discredit Peter in the eyes of the Empress and to increase 
his general unpopularity. Peter's admiration for Frederick 
the Great, whom he called " the King, my master," and the 
fact of his favouring the Prussian as against the Russian side 
in the war with Austria, could not but incense the Russian 
party. His enemies succeeded in so vilifying his character 
that the Empress for many months at a time refused to 
receive her heir. In the year 1762, at the age of fifty-three, 
after a reign of twenty years, Peter the Great's daughter 
succumbed to an internal malady, accelerated by excessive 
drinking. On her death-bed a formal reconciliation with her 
heir and his wife was arranged. In obedience to her adviser. 
Count Panin, the dying Empress repeated the words 
suggested to her by her father-confessor : " That she had 
always loved them, and that with her last breath she 
wished them aU kinds of blessings." The official reconcilia- 
tion was sufficient for political purposes ; the nation accepted 
as Emperor the heir appointed by their Empress, and, as 
Peter III., the Duke of Holstein-Gottorp ascended the throne 
of his grandfather, Peter the Great. 

As the conspiracy against Peter was not yet sufficiently 
matured, the whole Court hastened to protest their loyalty to 
the new sovereign. The first foreign potentate whom Peter 
informed of his accession to power was his beloved " master " 


and model, Frederick the Great, who gained materially by 
this change of ruler in Russia, for the Russian troops were 
at once recalled and Prussia thus delivered from its Eastern 
foe. As Elizabeth had entered into the war with Prussia 
not from political but from personal reasons, Peter was 
justified in concluding peace ; but the undignified haste 
with which he stopped operations injured his cause in 
the eyes of the nation, already resentful of his pro-German 

Discontent with the new regime soon began to make itself 
felt ; rumours spread that Peter III. was going to remodel 
the whole system of the Empire after the German pattern. 
At Court there was no party which genuinely supported him : 
he had made no friends among the Russian aristocrats, his 
chosen companions were German underlings. When, there- 
fore, it became known that the Emperor had it in mind to 
divorce his wife, deprive her son of the succession, and raise 
his mistress to the position of legal wife, the partisans of 
Catherine renewed their intrigues. Under the leadership of 
her ardent friend Princess Dashkov a conspiracy was formed 
which ultimately led to another palace revolution involving 
terrible crime. 

Meanwhile Peter III. unwittingly helped to undermine 
his own position : instead of making preparations for his 
coronation in Moscow, where all Russian rulers were, and are 
still, crowned, he planned a journey to Prussia to pay homage 
at the shrine of his idol. In his foreign policy he made several 
serious mistakes : although he stopped the war with Prussia 
on the plea of putting an end to wanton destruction of human 
life, he decided simultaneously to make war on Denmark in 
revenge for some personal injury done to his father in the 
past ; he disregarded the legitimate claims of his ally Austria, 
and not only made a separate peace with Prussia, but actually 
sent fifteen thousand troops to assist the shattered army of 
Frederick, who was thus enabled to reconquer all the territory 
he had lost. 

The internal policy of Peter's reign was mostly of a bene- 
ficent character. He abolished a few abuses, especially that 
of the application of torture ; he removed some galling 


restrictions imposed upon the liberty of the nobles, and also 
abolished i-orporal punishment for all army officers. The 
members of tlie arm}-, however, in spite of this, were irritated 
by the suggestion of reorganisation on Prussian lines. 

In his personal life the Emperor showed liimself during 
the first few weeks of his reign to be generous, bearing appar- 
ently no ill-\Wll towards those who had been opposed to him ; 
he also recalled from Siberia most of those who had been 
banished by his predecessor, and amongst others the aged 
Field-marshal Miinich, now a man of eighty-two years of age. 
For a ver}' short period after his accession all that was best 
and an^'thing that was regal in his character, whicli had 
hitherto shown nothing but meanness, came to the surface. 
But, unfortunately, it was only skin-deep, for he soon relapsed 
into the old coarse habits, and his boon companions, male and 
female, once more acquired the ascendency. 

Yet things might have gone on quietly for a time if he 
had not offended the susceptibilities of the Church. Peter III. 
did not realise that what his great ancestor had been able 
to do with impunity would be perilous if imitated by one so 
mediocre as himself. He confiscated the immense wealth 
of the Church, allowing aU ecclesiastics only a yearly salary ; 
he also made various arbitrary regulations with regard to 
their costume and beards. Besides this, he deeply offended 
the devout members of the congregation by removing 
particularly sacred ikons from various churches, and the 
Metropolitan of Novgorod, who vigorously protested against 
these arbitrary acts, was condemned to banishment. Popular 
indignation, however, forced the Tsar to rescind his order. 

If Peter III. had followed his " master's " advice he would 
have abstained from thus alienating sentiment and from in- 
sulting his wife. Frederick the Great warned him of breakers 
ahead, but the blinded Emperor had luUed himself into a 
false sense of security, for was he not doing his best for the 
nation ? Who would wish to harm him ? His career, how- 
ever, was doomed to a speedy close, and the rock on which 
he was wrecked was the ambition of his slighted wife. 

While Peter was alienating the Court and the Church 
by his unwise measures, she was gaining favour with the 



populace. A pupil of the French philosophers, and herself 
an atheist, she now assiduously observed all reUgious cere- 
monies, and publicly visited the churches of St Petersburg. 
By her charm of manner, her wit and intelUgence, she also 
won over to her side those whom Peter was offending. At 
that time her favourite was George Orlov, a handsome man, 

Church of the 12th Century. 

renowned for courage, who used his popularity in the army 
to win over the officers of the Guards to Catherine's side. 

The chief instigator, the brain of the conspiracy, how- 
ever, was the Princess Dashkov, who was also assisted in her 
dangerous undertaking by the Cossack Hetman Razoumovski, 
brother of the morganatic husband of the late Empress ; by 
the MetropoUtan of Novgorod ; by Count Panin, tutor to 
the young Grand Duke Paul ; and by many other influential 
men who, either from dislike to Peter, love for Catherine, 
or for the sake of their own aggrandisement, wished to bring 
about a change of regime. That Catherine's ambition was 
to usurp the power for herself instead of being satisfied 


with tlio regency on behalf of her son soon became apparent, 
and in one of the meetings of tlie conspirators she was 
sternly rebuked for this by Count Panin, though without 

Wvv friends were divided as to tlie manner in which the 
Emperor should be disposed of. Before, however, any plans 
could be definitely decided upon, unforeseen circumstances 
arose which forced the issue. The coup d'etat succeeded 
better than the plotters had dared to hope, and within a few 
hours the Guards, who had been bribed, swore allegiance to 
Catherine, and accompanied by them she proceeded to the 
Kazan Cathedral, where she was solemnly proclaimed Empress, 
and her son, the Grand Duke Paul, successor to the throne. 
The Metropolitan of Novgorod, who officiated, thus avenged 
the wrongs inflicted upon the Church by Peter III. 

Without a shot being fired, without a hand being raised on 
his behalf, the Emperor lost his crown. Incapable of deter- 
mined action, he was caught in a trap and forced to abdicate. 
For six days the deposed ruler of All the Russias was kept 
prisoner in a castle near St Petersburg ; while his star was 
setting, that of his ambitious wife was rising. 

Catherine issued manifestoes in which she set forth her 
merits, her ardent love towards the Russian people, and her 
devotion to their rehgious and social welfare, at the same time 
accusing her husband of real and imaginary perfidy. These 
days were not easy for the Empress. Her position was as 
yet insecure, and her means of bribing the army altogether 
inadequate ; she also knew that if Peter boldly reasserted 
his rights he would probably be supported by a great majority 
of the army and of the more orderly citizens. 

She used every artifice she could think of to win popularity, 
and the day after her husband had been removed from 
Peterhof she made a triumphal entry into the capital and 
won over to her side even the members of the ex-Tsar's 
personal entourage. Yet serious difficulties lay before the 
new Empress ; there were the claims to settle of those who 
had assisted her, and, as her exchequer was practically empty, 
she gave hberally aU it was in her power to give — rank 
and promotion. Nor did she neglect State duties : she 


attended the sittings of the Senate, gave audience to foreign 
ambassadors, and did her utmost to obhterate the remem- 
brance of her illegal assumption of power by graciousness of 
manner, flattery, and generosity towards those whom she 
suspected of being her enemies. 

But Catherine's authority rested as yet on insecure founda- 
tions ; there was a smouldering dissatisfaction which threat- 
ened to burst out at any moment. Her fears increased, 
sleep fled from her eyes, and whether the crime which was to 
ensure her safety and tranquillity was committed by her order 
or not has never been proved. The fact, however, remains 
that, six days after Peter's abdication, two of the Empress's 
partisans, one the brother of her favourite Orlov, murdered 
the unhappy ex-Emperor. 

If Catherine had been free from all guilt, surely she would 
have severely punished the murderers of her husband ; instead 
of this they were left at large, even retaining her favour and 
their official positions. Once again Catherine played the 
role of hypocrite ; for although informed immediately by 
Orlov of the Emperor's death, this news was withheld from 
the pubhc for a whole day, during which she showed herself 
as calm and serene as if the hideous crime had never been 
committed. The next day — the seventh after her usurpa- 
tion of power, or, as she worded it in her manifesto to the 
nation, " her accession to the throne " — she informed the 
nation that, in consequence of a serious illness, and " by 
permission of the Almighty, the late Emperor had departed 
this life." 

Catherine's path to unhmited power had been paved with 
violence, and the crime which had secured her the throne 
recoiled upon her heavily, for at least four pretenders claim- 
ing to be Peter III. disturbed the otherwise even tenor of 
her reign : the great rising of Pougatchev especially caused 
terrible suffering to the nation. The Empire, however, 
gained nothing but advantage from the change of ruler. In 
place of the mediocre Peter III., Russia was now governed 
by the illustrious Catherine II., whose brilliant personality, 
gifts of rulership, including power of application, knowledge 
of facts, and accuracy in detail, made her term of government 


a period of progress for the Russian nation. In her the mind 
of Peter the Great seemed to be reflected ; and but for the 
crime to which she owed her accession to the throne, her fame 
as ruler and administrator would have been above reproach, 
although her private life will not, it must be admitted, bear 
close inspection. 




After the cowp d'etat by which Catherine had come to 
power she hoped for a period of peace. The country needed 
rest and time for recuperation, but very soon poHtical com- 
pHcations arose which drew her into war. Although Count 
Panin strongly urged the Empress to revert to the Austrian 
alliance so rudely interrupted by Peter III.'s pro-Prussian 
policy, she persisted in the latter. Catherine II. intended 
personally to direct the foreign politics of Russia, and all 
her ministers were permitted to do was to fall in with her 

Her policy was purposeful and persistent, and was crowned 
with success. During the thirty-three years of Catherine's 
reign she participated in three different political combina- 
tions. In the year 1762 she joined a " Northern Union," 
an alhance formed by Russia, England, Prussia, Sweden, 
Denmark, Saxony, etc., to counterbalance the " Southern 
Union " of Austria and France. In 1782 the balance was 
shifted, Russia joining Austria and France for a period of 
six years during which Potemkin and Besborodko were the 
Empress's poHtical advisers. There was a third change of 
alliance in 1789 which lasted until Catherine's death in 
1796 : the Revolution in France influenced Catherine to 
draw away from that country into closer union with the 
other monarchical States. 

Poland was destined to come in for a great deal of 
Catherine's attention. The condition of that kingdom in 1768 
was as hopeless as ever : strife and discord between the political 

146 10 


factions had reduced the country to a state of anarchy and 
civil war. In order to save their unhappy countr}- some of 
the leading patriots decided to call in help from outside for 
the restoration of order. One party, that of the Potockis, 
favoured an appeal to Austria ; the other, the Czartoryskis, 
desired Russia's intervention. The latter won the day, but 
with disastrous results to the independence of Poland. 
Catherme's former favourite Poniatovski was elected king, 
and Russia became, to all intents and purposes, mistress of 
Poland ; but the hopes of the Poles for a vigorous poUcy 
of reform were soon shattered. 

Turkey was at this time the recognised defender and pro- 
tector of Polish independence ; and therefore, when Russia 
became too aggressive, Turkey was obliged to consider her 
pledge. Some years previously the German physician of 
the Sultan is reported to have reminded him that "it is the 
duty of Turkej^ to protect Poland's Uberty." i But Turkey 
had also other reasons for entering upon a war with Russia : 
the latter's intrigues in Roumania and Montenegro, her 
aggression in New Serbia, and her support of the Georgian 
Tsar as against his suzerain the Sultan, had been irritating 
the Porte for some time past, so there was no difficulty in 
finding a pretext for a declaration of war. 

Catherine and Frederick the Great, who had become 
friendly as thieves sharing common spoil over the unhappy 
victim Poland, upheld, from poHtical reasons, the " Dissi- 
dents " or Nonconformists of Poland, who had formed the 
Confederation of Bar ; for the civil war which was tearing 
Poland to pieces was being waged as much over the religious 
as over the political question. 

In the midst of all this, the flames of revolt suddenly 
broke out in the Ukraina, where the Haidamaks (landless 
Russian peasants who had become robbers) rose against the 
Pohsh Roman Cathohc nobles. The war-cry of these people 
was : " For the Orthodox Church — the Church of Christ ! " 
Hatred of their oppressors and love of plunder led these 
disorderly bands to revel in carnage and perpetrate most ap- 
palhng atrocities. They sometimes demonstrated the viru- 
1 See Chapter XXV., " Poland." 


lence of their hatred by hanging on the same gibbet a Pole, 
a Jew, and a dog. This revolt developed into a war of 
races, creeds, and classes. 

At this moment, in October 1768, Turkey declared war 
upon Russia : this meant that all Russia's troops would be 
required, and pohcy therefore forced Catherine to withdraw 
her support from the Confederation, so that Poland was given 
a breathing space from Russian interference, and the king, 
who complained of the Russian Ambassador's tyranny, 
succeeded in having him recalled. His successor, a gentle 
and weak man, was incapable of making a stand against 
Stanislav Poniatovski, who, suddenly asserting himself, 
refused to help Russia against Turkey. The civil war in 
Poland was, however, still being carried on : thus Catherine 
had to deal with a revolt in Poland on the one hand 
and war with Turkey on the other. Yet in spite of having 
declared war, the Porte was not reaUy ready for it, and 
was quite unable to make a successful stand against the five 
armies which Catherine sent to attack Turkey at various 
points. Russia was victorious in this campaign of 1768-69 ; 
she occupied Moldavia, Wallachia, and Bessarabia, and in 
Bucharest and Jassy Russian administration was actually 

Even these successes did not satisfy the ambitious Empress. 
Nothing less than a Russian occupation of Constantinople and 
a total dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire would suffice. 
To further her schemes she had planned an attack on the 
Turks from an unexpected quarter. She sent her fleet down 
from the Baltic to the ^Egean Sea to surprise the enemy in 
the south — a great undertaking, and one the Turks had 
never anticipated. At that time Russia was fortunate enough 
to have in her service several able EngHsh naval officers, 
and, while the fleet was ostensibly commanded by the two 
Russian admirals Spiridonov and Mordvinov, Rear-Admiral 
Elphinstone, as an energetic assistant, was with them. The 
Englishman chafed under the incompetence of his Russian 
colleagues and the bad condition of the fleet, both as to ships 
and crew. 

When the Russian fleet called at English ports on her 


way to Greece, Elphinstone was enabled, by courtesy of the 
British Admiralty, to make good the most flagrant deficiencies, 
to procure fresh food, tackle, etc., and to take on board 
t];ood pilots and some efficient officers. 

Tlie horror and astonishment of Turkey at finding a 
Russian fleet in the Archipelago, added to a rising of 
the (! reeks, was extreme. Catherine, follo\\dng the Muscovite 
tradition which made the Tsar heir to the Greek Emperors 
and thus the natural protector of all the Greek Orthodox 
Christians of the Balkan States, had assiduousl}^ prepared 
the soil for a rebeUion against the Moslem rulers. When the 
fleet arrived, bringing Avith it all the ammunition required 
by the insurgents, a general rising broke out as arranged with 
Catherine's agents, both lay and clerical. 

Montenegro alone did not respond to the invitation 
to join in the rising, being perfectly satisfied with the rule of 
a clever adventurer who pretended to be Catherine's late 
husband, Peter III. The insurrection spread all over Morea, 
but soon the Greeks got out of hand and terrible atrocities 
were committed. The campaign ended in failure, for mutual 
misunderstandings and recriminations had ensued ; the 
Greeks were unable to fulfil their promises, and the Russians 
were not numerous enough to carry on the enterprise by 
themselves. Count Orlov, the Russian generahssimo, accord- 
ingly abandoned Morea to its fate and withdrew into Italy. 
Turkish reprisals decimated the unhappy Greek population, 
who accused the Russians of having deserted them. 

The failure of this scheme greatly incensed the Empress, 
who remarked that the Greeks were not worth helping if they 
would not make a more vigorous efifort to help themselves. 
She and her generalissimo planned revenge on the Turks. 
Elphinstone and Spiridonov were equally eager to share in 
the design. Orlov, who, although not a naval man, had 
assumed supreme command of the navy, now decided to 
attack the Turkish fleet, which was twice as big as and in 
every way superior to that of Russia : but before he could 
strike a blow the two Turkish fleets united and succeeded 
in reaching the isle of Chio, off the coast of Asia Minor. As 
it was then too late to draw back, the Russians determined 


to do their best, and if need be to perish in the attempt. 
The battle began on the 7th of July 1770, a Russian ship 
sailing boldly forth to grapple with a Turkish one. Both 
ships were damaged and took fire : of the Russian crew, only 
fifty managed to save themselves by jumping overboard, 
while five hundred were blown up with the ship. The Russian 
council of war decided to renew the attack that night 
in order to complete the havoc already begun amongst the 
Turkish fleet ; so in the early hours of the morning, under 
cover of darkness, the intrepid EngHsh officers came alongside 
the Turkish vessels, quickly set them ablaze, and kept up 
a bombardment while the fire was spreading. Daybreak 
revealed the awful extent of the Turkish disaster, and Spiri- 
donov did not exaggerate when he Mnrote to Catherine, " We 
are masters of the Archipelago : we have attacked, defeated, 
destroyed, burned, blown up, and sunk the Turkish fleet." 

After this tremendous stroke of fortune, something more 
seemed possible to Elphinstone ; he proposed that the 
Bosphorus should be entered and terms dictated to Stamboul 
under menace of the Russian guns. But this advice did not 
appeal to the Russian commanders, who, conscious of the 
weakness of their fleet, feared that it would be only courting 
disaster to act in such a way. To prove the feasibility of his 
plan the enterprising Englishman then entered the Dar- 
danelles with his flagship, succeeded in silencing the Turkish 
guns, and, raising his cup of tea, drank to the health of 
their ineffectual artillery ; after this he had regretfully to 
return to his colleagues. Thus the first shots at Constan- 
tinople were fired on behalf of Russia by an Englishman. 
The great victory at Tchesme made Russia mistress of the 
Archipelago and raised her in the eyes of other nations. The 
Empress was more than delighted, and bestowed the title of 
" Tchesmenski " ("of Tchesme ") upon her favourite Orlov. 

Yet, in spite of success by land and sea — for the Crimea 
had been taken — this first Russo-Turkish war did not end 
in Turkey's being crushed. Both countries, in fact, desired 
a settlement — the Porte reahsed its desperate phght, and 
Russia especially needed a respite as the Pohsh question was 
reviving in an aggravated form. Peace negotiations were 


therefore opened up and an armistice proclaimed at Focsiani 
in the summer of 1771. Unfortunately, new comphcations 
arose ; no settlement could be arrived at, as Turkey refused 
to allow Russia to keep the Crimea ; but while negotiations 
were pending war was also being carried on, success alternat- 
ing ^^•ith defeat. Finally, however, Roumyanzev's success 
in Bulgaria forced Turkey to come to terms. 

Probably Catherine would have made much greater 
demands on Turkey if her successes had not aroused European 
opposition. During the first few years of her reign Frederick 
the Great had been her loyal ally, Austria being held in check 
by this Russo-Prussian alliance — " the Northern Entente " ; 
but when Poland and Turkey simultaneously were engaging 
the attention of the Russian troops, the Prussian King became 
more independent and began to play for his own hand. 

Catherine's aims in regard to Poland influenced all her 
pohtical actions. The warring ambitions of Catherine and 
Frederick the Great — hers to have the dominant influence, 
his to round off his possessions with a nice bit of Poland — 
were bound to clash sooner or later, and the internal dissen- 
sions of that country also did much to bring matters to a 
chmax. E\ndentl3^ Frederick feared a possible annexation 
of the whole kingdom by his ambitious and none too scrupu- 
lous neighbour : it was his brother who suggested to Catherine 
the advisabihty of partitioning that unhappy land. She 
was also warned by Frederick that, if she wished to avoid the 
interference of Austria, she had better stay her hand in 
Turkey and indemnify herself with PoUsh territory ; for by 
this time fear of the increasing power of Russia had drawn 
Prussia and Austria into a rapprochement. 

Catherine, seeing the necessity of keeping Austria quiet, 
accepted the proposal which had already been made, and 
rejected in 1769. In 1772, Russia, Prussia, and Austria 
signed a convention in St Petersburg by which Poland was 
robbed of five miUion of her inhabitants and 1875 square 
miles of territory, which had originally formed part of the 
Russian Lands, and which were to be Catherine's share of the 

Neither France nor England, nor even Turkey, the guard- 


ian of Polish liberty, raised a hand to prevent this crime, 
although their people were aghast at it. The doctrine that 
" might is right " was thus proclaimed as a pohtical creed. 
After a year of fruitless opposition the Poles were forced to 
bow to the inevitable ; threatened on every side, all they 
could do was to submit, and in the silent session of 1773 the 
Diet recognised the partition. 

In regard to the partition of Poland Frederick the Great 
wrote to his brother : " This act will form a union of the 
three religions, Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Cal- 
vinistic {i.e. Russia, Austria, Prussia), for we MdU aU com- 
municate of one Eucharistic body, which is Poland ; and 
even if this be not a benefit for our souls, it will in any case 
be a grand thing for the good of our States." Although 
Catherine had by this treaty regained a great part of those 
territories which Russia had claimed as hers by right since 
the days of Ivan III., such a partial gain could never satisfy 
her, whose aim it had been to gain possession of the whole 
country. She hoped, however, that the precedent created 
would pave the way to further depredations in the future. 

Yet for the present Catherine needed peace, in view of 
Sweden's threatening attitude. Using Roumyanzev's victories 
as a pohtical lever, she forced the Grand Vizier to come to 
terms ; the negotiations begun at Fosciani came to an end 
at the Treaty of Koutchouk Kainardji in 1774. 

Some historians call this peace " the birthday of the 
Eastern Question." By it Russia obtained free access to aU 
Turkish waters, the Dardanelles included, and secured the 
right to have in the Black Sea a mercantile navy which 
should be granted equal trading rights with the French " as 
a favoured nation." She retained Kertch, Yenikale, Azov, 
Kinburn, and all the country between the Bug and the 
Dniester, and forced Turkey to recognise the independence 
of the Tatars in the Crimea and of the Georgians in the 
Caucasus ; thus paving the way to annexation in the near 
future. Turkey, moreover, was made to pay a heavy war 
indemnity and to recognise the title of " Emperor " which 
Peter the Great had assumed, and which the Porte alone of 
all the European States had refused to accord him. In 


return for all these concessions, Russia surrendered all her 
conquests on the Danube and the Crimea. 

The great importance of this treaty was fully realised 
by the Avistrian ambassador, who considered that the Empress 
thereby became virtual owner of Constantinople, with the 
Sultan as tenant, to whom notice to quit might at any time 
be given. 

The pohtics of the more western European countries also 
had their influence on the Empress. For instance, the action 
taken by England and Spain Avith regard to neutral shipping 
induced her to issue a proclamation to the Courts of London, 
Versailles, and Madrid on the " privileges and rights of 
neutrals." She upheld the rights of neutrals to carry on 
legitimate trade along the coast of beUigerent nations. She 
invited the ambassadors assembled at the Hague to make 
common cause with her, as such a union would serve to 
protect trade and na\agation and at the same time cause 
them to observe a strict neutraUty : " That there might be 
no misunderstanding or false interpretation, she thought it 
might be necessary to specify in this declaration the hmits 
of free trade and what is called contraband." In order to 
protect the honour of her flag and to secure the safety of the 
trade and na\dgation of her subjects, she intended mobihsing 
the greater part of her maritime forces. " This measure will 
not, however, influence the strict neutrality she does observe 
and will observe, so long as she is not provoked or forced 
into breaking the bounds of moderation and perfect imparti- 
ality. . . ." Ultimately Great Britain gave a satisfactory 
reply to this declaration, and France and Spain made their 
answer conditional on " what part the Enghsh navy takes, 
and whether it will, together with its privateers, keep within 
proper bounds." Thus in 1781 the maritime treaty of 
" armed neutrahty " was ratified by the Powers, Catherine 
claiming to be its originator. 

With regard to Turkey the Empress had to modify her 
ambitious schemes ; for Joseph II. having changed his views 
as to the urgency of Turkish integrity, now showed himself 
quite ready to divide the Ottoman Empire with her, while 
Catherine's dream was to re-establish the Byzantine Empire 


and to appoint her own grandson Constantine as ruler. In 
fact, the Grand Duke had been prepared from childhood for 
this position ; he was dressed in Greek costume and had been 
given Greek companions, with whom he had to converse in 
their own language. 

In 1780 the two monarchs, both of whom had intentions on 
Turkey, met, the Emperor of Austria visiting Russia incognito. 
He and Catherine met each other first at Mohilev and then 
travelled together to St Petersburg, where the Balkan 
Question occupied their careful attention. 

As a condition for obtaining Austria's support Catherine 
had been forced to renounce her " Greek scheme." Although 
nothing definite was fixed at this meeting, Prussia was 
alarmed, and, as a counterstroke, the King sent his brother 
on a visit to St Petersburg, where Catherine, true to her 
policy of playing one Power off against the other, received 
him graciously. However, the alliance with Prussia, made 
by Peter III. and hitherto upheld by Catherine, was not 

In 1782 a new war with Turkey seemed imminent : there 
was plenty of cause for it — a revolt in the Crimea gave the 
actual pretext. Catherine, assured of Austria's support, 
calmly annexed the Crimea in 1783. The Khan surrendered 
it to her in return for a pension which, alas ! never got beyond 
Potemkin's pocket. Catherine thus once more increased 
her territory. She appointed her former favourite Potemkin 
ruler over the Crimea, to which she restored the old classic 
name of " Tauris." She also restored to the Kuban district 
the old name of " Caucasus." War with the Porte, however, 
was prevented by the intervention of the Powers, France, 
Austria, and Prussia. 

The annexation of the Crimea was a political necessity for 
Russia : the frequent inroads of the Tatars into Southern 
Russia made these fertile steppes insecure, and the only means 
of ensuring immunity from attack was to turn the khanate of 
the Crimea into a Russian province. Turkey, on the other 
hand, could not agree to such loss of territory without raising 
an objection. The preparations for the eventuality had been 
carried on for a long time, Catherine having taken a personal 


interest in the work, which had also been furthered consider- 
ably by party strife amongst the Tatars themselves, some of 
whom had appealed to Russia for support against the Turks. 

Potemkin, who had always encouraged Catherine in her 
ambition with regard to the restoration of the Byzantine 
Empire, had visions of himself as King of Dacia ; however, 
Jaute de mieux, he set himself the task of creating to the best 
of his ability a new Russia on the ruins of the former Tatar 
khanate. He founded the town of Cherson, where he built 
himself a gorgeous palace in which he held his Court like a 
genuine Eastern satrap. He founded several towns, two of 
which, Ekaterinaslav (" the glory of Catherine ") and Ekaterin- 
burg, were named after his Imperial mistress. 

Annexation had opened up these fertile lands for colonisa- 
tion, which soon became the great point of attraction 
for the Russian peasant. A great wheat market was thus 
created in the " New Russia." When the Peace of Kout- 
chouk Kainardji made Russia free to navigate in the 
Black Sea, Catherine had at once given orders for the build- 
ing of a mercantile fleet to ship the golden grain to other 

During this period European politics also occupied 
Catherine's attention. Her Austrian ally, Joseph II., was 
planning the annexation of Venice and of various Balkan 
provinces, but his correspondence with her was chiefly on 
the topic of Turkey, which they hoped to divide between 
them. Western Europe, however, began to resent Catherine's 
aggressions ; Prussia and France intrigued against her at 
Constantinople. There was a growing feeling that a fresh 
war was imminent. Russia was ready, and Admiral Greigh 
had already prepared a plan for attacking the Dardanelles. 
The Austrian Chancellor, too, thought that it was a pro- 
pitious moment for his country to strike and regain what 
had been lost at the Treaty of Belgrad ; but Turkey held 
back, for her politicians were divided, and the peace party 
won the day. Thus war was postponed for a time. 

The Empress took advantage of this lull in the storm. 
She decided to visit her newly acquired possession, the 
Crimea ; perhaps, too, she wished to judge for herself of her 


powerful friend's rule, which had been frequently denounced 
to her. The journey was undertaken in 1778. The foreign 
ambassadors, then at St Petersburg, were invited by the 
Empress to accompany her on this tour. 

This was Potemkin's opportunity : he decided to dazzle 

the world with a display of Russia's resources, and to show 

to the Empress the marvellous success of his organisation 

and rulership. As far as Catherine was concerned his efforts 

were crowned with success. She let herself be deceived by 

the appearance of prosperous towns and villages which in 

reality did not exist. Potemkin, a first-rate stage-manager, 

( had provided movable scenery so that the same painted 

I fronts of houses, seen at a distance, and the same well-clad 

; peasants, greeting her at different places, made her believe 

in the prosperity of the district. The French ambassador 

is said to have felt great pity for the Empress, who allowed 

herself to be thus deceived. Potemkin's ingenious trick has 

become proverbial in Russia, and sham prosperity is called 

I to this day " Potemkin's villages " ! 

Catherine's journey partook of the nature of a triumphal 
I procession. In Kiev, Polish nobles, Tatars, Kirgise, Kal- 
'< mucks, as well as representatives of Western Europe, thronged 
! her Court : Orient and Occident met as in a phantasmagoria. 
^ Although the subject of politics was avoided on this journey, 
I the atmosphere was nevertheless pregnant with it. The 
I King of Poland came to meet Catherine en route, and while 
I that meeting was of no political importance, the rendezvous 
j at Cherson with Joseph II. was fuU of significance. The 
i two sovereigns were impressed by the fleet at Sevastopol : 
' they marvelled at the genius of Potemkin, who had apparently 
I created a new civilisation on the ruins of Tatardom : all — 
I forts, fleet, etc. — seemed almost like a fata Morgana, so in- 
I credibly swift had been their appearance ! 
[ That the susceptibilities of Turkey would be offended by 
j this journey was certain ; but what most provoked the Porte 
' was the Greek inscription on the triumphal arches erected 
by Potemkin all along the route : " Road to Byzantium ! " 
j The French ambassador, realising the meaning of this boast, 
I looked glum, the Austrian Emperor, on the contrary, 

ir.c. A rnorsAND years of Russian histohv 

seemed to enJDV tlu' urim humour of tlio situation. He 
wrote home : " . . . and now imagine wliat the Sultan 
must feel like ! He is sure to be daily expecting the Russians 
to come and shatter the windows of his palace with tlie 
thunder of their guns ! " In fact, this in itself was quite 
sutlicient provocation for an outbreak of hostilities. 

Tlie possession of the Crimea had only whetted Russia's 
appetite for " more." The important fortress of Otchakov 
was now coveted and also the passage through the Dar- 
danelles, while Russia's occupation of the Crimea gave the 
Turks a feeling of insecurity, and Austria, anticipating that 
the Ottoman Empire would soon fall a prey to Russia, wanted 
to put in a claim for a share in it. Intrigues, bribery, stirring 
up of party strife in the Caucasus, where the Tsar, Heraclius 
of Georgia, had in 1783 appealed for a Russian protectorate — 
all these combined now led to new complications. The 
Empress had only just returned from her triumphal journey 
when war was declared by Turkey after an ultimatum of 
13th August 1787, which Russia could not possibly accept. 
France and Austria worked for peace, England and Prussia 
against it, Prussia and Sweden trying to profit by Catherine's 

Turkey took the offensive and attacked the fortress of 
Kinburn. Potemkin, visionary and stage-manager, quailed 
before danger — courage failed him ; and, but for the exploits 
of General Souvorov, Turkey would have been able to march 
into Russia. He, however, saved the situation, and relief and 
joy reigned once more in St Petersburg. His success on land 
was to be followed up by the fleet, but Potemkin's famous 
ships had been hurriedly and therefore badly built. A 
naval defeat disheartened the Russians, but Catherine, never 
daunted, urged on the siege of Otchakov, which Souvorov took 
after a stubborn resistance, the Russians losing four thousand, 
while the Turks lost ten thousand men. 

Suddenly Sweden declared war. While Russia and Austria 
were fighting against Turkey, the Swedish king, Gustavus III., 
had sent to Catherine preposterous and arrogant demands, as 
if " he had already won three victories." She, however, 
desired to show him, as she put it, " that even should he 


win them, he would still find a resolute woman to oppose him 
at the head of a devoted people." 

The situation thus created by the Swedish ultimatum 
caused deep consternation in St Petersburg, which was within 
easy reach of the Swedish frontier of Finland. There were 
hardly any troops stationed in tjie capital, so that workmen, 
and even cooks, etc., had to be quickly enrolled as fighters. 
The Empress kept a stout heart : her cool head and masterly 
statesmanship never faUed her. The Russians, under Admiral 
Greigh, won a victory at sea, but the land campaign, which 

St George and St Dmitri. 

(Stone bas-relief of the 12th century in the Monastery of St Michael in Kiev.) 

was fought out on Finnish soil, had not much success till 
relief came in the unexpected form of a conspiracy formed 
amongst the Finnish officers of the Swedish army, who, 
encouraged by Russia, hoped to obtain independence for 
Finland. This occurrence, together with a rising amongst 
the Swedes themselves against their King, who they declared 
had violated the constitution, placed Gustavus III. in a very 
precarious position. He in his turn was extricated by an 
attack made by Sweden's hereditary foe Denmark, which at 
once aroused the loyalty of the Swedish people. 

In 1790, a year after Greigh's success, the Russian navy 
suffered a severe defeat, but, in spite of this success, the King 
of Sweden was ready to make peace, his people were weary 
of war. Catherine, too, was quite prepared to compromise ; 


she required another breathing space, as the South was 
ohiiining her full and undivided attention. Thus the Peace 
of Viirela was concluded (1790), and from that time onwards 
Gustavus III. became the friend and ally of Russia. 

Her Austrian ally, Joseph II., had died in the meanwhile, 
and his successor, Leopold II., not only concluded a separate 
peace with Turkey, but had also formed an alliance with 
England and Prussia for the " safeguarding of the integrity 
of the Ottoman Empire." Thus Catherine had to stand alone 
in her war against Turkey ; yet the deeds of General Souvorov, 
especially his siege of Ismail, which ended in the terrible 
massacre of its twenty-six thousand inhabitants, made 
Constantinople tremble. Besides this, Catherine's troops were 
successful on the Danube, in the Caucasus, and on the Kuban. 
Still, the Empress was anxious to repeat the naval succesess 
of 1770 — another victory like the one at Tchesme was her 
ambition — and she therefore transferred her fleet from the 
Baltic to Turkish waters. 

Her victories, however, awoke the hostility of Pitt, who 
considered the existence of the Ottoman Empire as of great 
importance to England. He wished to send ships to assist 
Turkey after the fall of Otchakov, but when he asked Parlia- 
ment to vote a grant of money for this purpose it was opposed ; 
neither Lords nor Commons saw any reason for going into 
the war — it did not seem to matter to Britain who possessed 
the Bosphorus. Pitt gave way, and so " the Russian arma- 
ment " came to nought, otherwise the Crimean War might 
have been antedated by sixty-three years. 

The Russian fleet, under Admirals Oushakov and Paul 
Jones, the' notorious American buccaneer, succeeded in 
destroying the Turkish fleet. This, added to other Russian 
successes, decided Turkey to make peace, which was con- 
cluded at Jassy, Besborodko acting as Russia's plenipotentiary. 
Potemkin, who had reckoned on signing the treaty himself, 
was only prevented by death from harvesting more laurels 
to which he had no right ; for, hitherto, he had always taken 
the credit for all Souvorov's victories. 

At Jassy Catherine showed unexpected moderation, and, 
with the exception of Otchakov, practically all the territory 


taken by Russia was given back to Turkey. Although the 
actual gain of territory was very small, the annexation of the 
Crimea was officially recognised by the Porte ; thus the 
whole northern shore of the Black Sea was now in Russia's 
possession. Catherine's moderation was the result of the 
political situation in Western Europe, for many potential 
enemies were on the look-out to compUcate matters for 

However, as before in 1772, so now in 1792, she compen- 
sated herself at the cost of Poland. Cause for interference 
was not far to seek. Prussia had gained influence in Poland 
by supporting the king in his attempt to estabhsh a new 
constitution, which was to create order out of anarchy. 
Catherine thereupon sent troops into the Ukraina, consenting 
to recall them only on condition that the constitution should 
be abrogated. Trusting in the promises of Prussia, the 
King of Poland refused to complj^ with Catherine's demands, 
but found himself betrayed ; for, under the pretext of estab- 
lishing order, the Prussian army invaded the unhappy land. 
A Diet was called in 1792 which was forced to agree to the 
Becond partition of Poland. This led to a great national 
rising, ruthlessly put down by Prussian and Russian arms. 
Souvorov attacked Warsaw, and, after an appalHng massacre 
in Praga (one of the suburbs), the capital had to surrender. 
The result of all this was a third partition in 1795, which put 
an end to Poland's existence as a separate kingdom. 

In consequence of this total dismemberment of Poland, 
Catherine was enabled to unite with her Empire all the ancient 
Russian Land, with the exception of Galicia, " the Golden 
Russia " of early days. On the strength of this, the Empress 
felt herself justified in declaring that she had not taken " a 
hand's breadth of PoHsh territory." Thus after nearly three 
centuries the ambition of Ivan III. was at last reaHsed. 

Catherine's original intention of making Poland a vassal- 
state of Russia had been frustrated, however, by the desire 
of Prussia and Austria to have a share of the booty ; and 
thus, faute de mieux, she had to be satisfied with a partial 
acquisition of territory with a population of about five milhons. 

For centuries Poland had been the Jews' Eldorado, where 


they had a recognised status ; wliere, on conversion to the 
Roman faith they became members of the nobihty, ranking 
witli the Szlachta ^ ; where they enjoyed the legal monopoly 
of trade and commerce. All tliis was now changed, for Russia 
refused to grant them equaUty, and thus tlie Jewish problem 
came to the mighty Empire as a direct result of Catlierine's 
political crime. 

Even the partition of Poland did not set a limit to Russia's 
expansion, and a pretext for further acquisition of territory, 
tills time in the Caucasus, was soon found. The Tsar of 
Gieorgia, Russia's vassal since 1785, requested Catherine's 
assistance against the Shah of Persia, who had attacked 
Tiflis, carr}Tng away many captives and much boot5\ Russian 
assistance was dearly bought, the friends proving nearly 
as harmful as the foes ; but this war against Persia was not 
fouglit out in the reign of the great Ruler of Russia. 

The reign of Catherine the Great was thus a period of 
territorial expansion by means of costly wars ; but although 
they were ruinous economically, Russia gained enormously 
in prestige and became a power to be reckoned with by the 
rest of Europe. 

The verdict on this extraordinary woman who personally 
guided the helm of the State depends upon the point of 
view from which she is judged. She has provoked endless 
criticism, but two facts are beyond all dispute — her great 
intellectual powers and the aggrandisement of Russia, to 
whose territory she added five hundred and sixty thousand 
square miles. 

^ See Chapter XXV., " Poland." 


Russia at the Close of thb Eighteenth Centuky. 




The ambition of the young wife of Peter III. to become ruler 
of Russia had been fulfilled. True to her motto, " I must 
reign or perish," she found herself at the head of the vast 
Russian Empire. 

TMs period of Russian histor}^ is stamped so absolutely 
\vith the personaUty of this extraordinary woman that it 
is impossible to treat of the events of these years without 
taking it into special account. She was in many respects 
like her great predecessor Peter I., more particularly so in 
her untiring labours as ruler of the realm. Like him she took 
personal note of all that went on in her Empire. Although 
she describes the eighteen years of her life in Russia as Grand 
Duchess as having been a period of " ennui and loneUness," 
they were not wasted years, for it was during this time of 
enforced pohtical inactivity that the future Ruler of AU the 
Russias stored her mind with knowledge, to be applied in 
later j'ears for the benefit of her people. 

She studied the best authors of the world, and was as 
much at home in classic as in modern Uterature ; her love 
of history was genuine, for she found solace and forgetfulness 
of her troubles and sorrows in study. Her passion for history 
was so absorbing that she was able to say, " Even in my 
sleep I compose history." As years went on Catherine's love 
of study and work only increased, so that her intellectual 
culture surpassed that of her entourage, with the exception 
of her friend the Princess Dashkov, who was nearest to her 
in intellectual abihty. 

The Empress revelled in mental efifort, and the numerous 
marginal notes on her ministers' reports prove how minutely 
she studied the documents laid before her. She laboured 



untiringly, not only at the business of the State, but at 
Hterary work and correspondence, which frequently dealt 
with educational and legislative problems. She gave herself 
time to study carefully each point of legislation, such matters 
being too important to be merely glanced at casually. 

Her custom was to get up at five or six o'clock in the 
morning, so that to this active and energetic sovereign a 
working day of fifteen hours was no unusual thing. She 
honestly tried to solve the difficulties of administration which 
presented themselves, and, when she thought it necessary, 
even went so far as to invite all Europe to come to her help 
with advice. A case in point was her desire to find a practical 
solution of the problem, " How to aboHsh serfdom without 
too much upsetting existing economic conditions ? " She 
offered seven thousand ducats for the best essay on the subject. 
The prize was awarded to Bearde de I'Abbaye of Aix-la- 
Chapelle, among one hundred and sixty competitors, only 
seven of whom were Russians. 

Despite the fact that Catherine was an ardent admirer of 
Western culture and also cherished a platonic friendship for 
illustrious foreigners, her " favourites " were all Slavs. She 
was wise enough rightly to value the advice of experienced 
Germans, but she gave them no public position of influence ; 
her advisers and ministers, Panin, Potemkin, Besborodko, 
and Betzkoi, were all Russians. She appreciated the fact 
that Englishmen were at that time better sailors than the 
Russians, but although Elphinstone and Greigh fought her 
battles on the sea, winning Russia's greatest naval victory, 
yet it was Alexei Orlov whom the Empress credited with the 
honour and glory. 

Although the Empress profited by the services and advice 
of able men, her period of rule did not produce any very 
striking personalities, for the simple reason that her own was 
so overpowering that it made everybody else appear more 
or less insignificant. 

Of all the men with whom the Empress became intimate, 
only the two brothers Gregory and Alexei Orlov, and Potemkin, 
played any political part, the others being nonentities, most 
of them carefully chosen or approved of by Potemkin, who 


would permit no other to gain ascendancy in influence. Even 
after ho had lost his position of favourite, Catherine still 
spoke of Potemkin as " m}' pupil, my friend, almost my idol." 
He alwaj-s remained her friend and adviser, his masterful 
and visionary nature strongly appealed to her ; she was 
attracted both by the likeness and contrast to herself shown 
b}- tliis remarkable man. Her clear, practical mind was 
troubled by no illusions ; it was nevertheless Potemkin's power 
to dream such dreams as that of a resuscitated Greek Empire 
which fired her ambition, and it was no doubt one of the 
reasons for his great influence over her. On the other hand, 
Alexei Orlov managed to maintain his position, after dismissal 
from the post of favourite, by dint of sheer dogged determina- 
tion. He simply refused to be shaken off and deprived of 
power, and his Imperial mistress rewarded his persistency by 
frequently bestowing upon him positions of command. 

Catherine wanted not only to understand everything 
but also to have a hand in everything, and her great optimism, 
her impUcit faith in herself, made her rush in where others 
feared to tread, and often it was only sheer luck wliich 
prevented her from making terrible mistakes. Contemporary 
verdicts about her are unanimous as to her intellectual quahties, 
but agree also as to her great vanity. Joseph II. wrote thus 
of her : " Her vanity is her idol, and her tremendous luck 
and the competition of Europe to shower exaggerated adula- 
tion on her have spoilt her." The " Semiramis of the North," 
as she was called, could hardly remain humble-minded. It 
is said of her that she had " all the vanity of a self-made 
man " ; to her the idea that she should not succeed in her 
undertakings seemed preposterous. 

She admitted frankly that she was not of a creative turn 
of mind, but was able and wiUing to accept and adapt the 
wise thoughts and counsels of others to her own needs. She 
never deceived herself on this point, nor did she ever make 
any pretence of having produced an original w^ork in her 
"Instruction," drawn up for the guidance of the Legislative 
Commission ; on the contrary, she expressed her behef that 
Montesquieu and Beccaria, whose works she had plagiarised, 
would not mind being thus utiUsed to so good a purpose. 


When Catherine undertook to prepare a library for her 
grandchildren, and for their benefit even wrote a history of 
Russia, she made use of the able assistance of experts. Her 
original Hterary efforts are letters, and some anonymous 
satires pubHshed in the Entertainer, edited by Princess 

As a letter-writer Catherine excelled ; it was in her cor- 
respondence with clever men such as Voltaire, Diderot, 
Frederick the Great, Joseph II., etc., that she found refreshing 
relaxation from the arduous duties of sovereignty. These 
letters reflect her keen interest, her wit and sarcasm, her 
appreciation of the thoughts of others, and her sympathy 
with everything which concerned education and progress. 
She was something of a hero-worshipper, and had a great 
admiration for Diderot, whom she would have canonised, 
as she expressed it, had she been the Pope. 

In a mock " Epitaph " on herself, the Empress wrote that 
when she came to the Court of Russia as a young girl there 
were three whom she desired to please : her husband, the 
Empress Elizabeth, and the nation. The first she soon had 
to give up as hopeless, the second she was obhged to keep on 
pleasing, but it was the last which vitally influenced her 
actions throughout her whole life. 

This German princess, who had not a drop of Slav blood 
in her veins, and who had violently usurped the throne, had 
to act a very different part from that of her predecessors, in 
whom the nation reverenced the lawful representatives of 
power. Anna Ivanovna, secure in her position as niece of 
the great Tsar, and Elizabeth as his daughter, had no need 
to think of ways and means for estabUshing or strengthening 
their position. They could frankly give way to their impulses 
and to their own idiosyncrasies — could favour Germans and 
disregard popular feeHng — for were they not divinely ap- 
pointed rulers in whose veins ran the same blood as in their 
people ? 

Not so Catherine ; hence her purposeful policy to be 
as " Russian " a ruler as tact and persistency could make her. 
She had faced her position from the very outset, and had done 
her utmost to become a Russian of the Russians, to master 


tho laiimmi^o and to appear a devout member of the national 
Chunh. W'liat a drawback she felt her German origin to 
be appears from a remark made to lier doctor once when ho 
was bleeding her : " Tliere goes the last drop of German 
blood, I hope ! " 

There was, however, a rival to Catherine for power — a 
legitimate claimant, the Tsar Ivan VI., who, on the accession 
of the Empress Elizabeth, had been incarcerated in the 
Schliisselburg fortress and had there been left to grow up 
in his prison : robbed of his crown, deprived of air and sunhght, 
he had developed into a pale and colourless youth with 
stunted mental development. In the year 1762 an attempt 
was made by an officer to Uberate the unhappy Tsar, but tliis 
led only to his murder, for standing orders had been given 
to his warders to kill him on the spot should such an attempt 
be made. \Vhether Catherine had any share in this crime 
has never been fully ascertained ; but at any rate a few months 
only after her usurpation of power the last legitimate rival 
to the throne was removed and Catherine deHvered from a 
threatening danger. 

Historians differ as to whether the domestic poUcy of 
Catherine II. was due to a genuine care for the nation's welfare, 
or whether it was dictated merely by personal ambition. 
We are free to give her the benefit of the doubt and to accept 
as true some, at least, of her oft-reiterated statements of her 
honest desire to help the nation, although in her later years 
she no longer acted up to her ideals. 

Such was the ruler of Russia : a woman balanced in 
mind (if not in heart), clear in thought and purpose, conscious 
of her own gifts and powers. A briUiant talker, witty and 
genial, she charmed all who came into contact with her 
socially. To this list of intellectual gifts must be added 
poUtical insight and diplomatic talent, which rendered her 
at times callous and inconsiderate and ready to drop at a 
moment's notice those who were of no more use to her ; in 
fact, she possessed that pohtical insincerity which would 
almost seem to be the sine qua non of a successful diplomatist. 
At the same time there was nothing smaU or mean in her 


Following in the steps of Peter the Great, Catherine proved 
herself tolerant in religious matters. She was a child of her 
time in this respect : the teaching of the French philosophers 
tended to religious indifference, which in a sovereign exhibits 
itself as toleration. Policy may also have influenced her 
attitude, for the many German colonists and French immi- 
grants who settled in Russia by her invitation would not have 
come without some such guarantee. In order to regulate 
and administer the affairs of these non-Greek Orthodox 
subjects, she established a department in connection with the 
Home Office to safeguard their interests. Through the 
annexation of Polish territory the Empress also ruled over 
a large Roman Catholic population, with regard to which 
she had a correspondence with the Pope ; in one matter, 
that of the Jesuits, she showed great independence, and per- 
mitted them to have a seminary in Mohilev and Polotsk, 
though they had been turned out of Rome. The number of 
her Moslem subjects was increased by the annexation of the 
Crimea, and to them, too, free exercise of their religion was 

Catherine was at one time strongly influenced by the 
democratic ideas of the French writers : Montesquieu especially 
appealed to her. Democratic in theory, absolutist in ^practice, 
these two contradictory elements found expression in the way 
the Empress inaugurated and carried out her great attempt 
at reform. In 1767 she called together a Legislative Assembly 
to assist her in the task of formulating laws, the existing 
codification being inadequate and out of date. This elected 
body was composed of representatives of every province, 
every separate nationality, and every class, save that which 
comprised nearly half the nation — the serfs. Six hundred 
and fifty-two deputies assembled in Moscow, where the 
Empress opened this National Council in person. 

The assembled deputies offered her the title of " The 
Great," " The Wise," " The Mother of the Fatherland " : 
she accepted the last only, as expressing her desire to bestow 
blessing upon her people. She read her carefully drawn-up 
" Instructions," or " Nakaz," for the guidance of the deputies, 
to whom she had promised perfect freedom of discussion 


ami inviolability of person. The " Instructions " closed with 
the words : " Flatterers have instilled into all sovereigns 
upon earth this pernicious maxim : that their people are 
created for them only. But we think and esteem it our duty 
to declare that we are created for our people ; for this reason 
we speak of things as they are, and have by this legislation 
intended to make Russia more just and happy than any 
nation upon earth. To be disappointed in this purpose would 
be a misfortune we do not wish to survive." This famous 
document was mainly composed of quotations taken, prac- 
tically verbatim, from Montesquieu and Beccaria ; it was a 
great source of pride to Catherine, who sent copies of it to 
various crowned heads and was vastly pleased with the 
adulation showered upon her in return. 

As her position on the throne was not a very secure one, 
she felt the need of external support, to gain which she did 
all she could to acquire a reputation for wisdom and for 
appreciating all that it was the fashion to admire. As a matter 
of fact, she richly deserved her fame on account of her great 
natural gifts, but much of the applause she received from her 
foreign admirers was mere fulsome flattery. Frederick the 
Great saying, among other things, that the " Greeks would 
have placed her between Lycurgus and Solon." 

For nearly a year the Legislative Body sat in consultation, 
and every aspect of the nation's life was fully deliberated 
upon. In 1768, on the outbreak of the Turkish War, the 
General Assembly was dissolved, but sub-committees carried 
on the work for another six years in St Petersburg with 
excellent results. The Empress attended two hundred and 
three of its sittings, and therefore could honestly say : " The 
Legislative Commission has given me enlightenment, insight, 
and knowledge with regard to everything concerning the 
whole Empire, so that now, knowing with what we have to 
deal, we know what we ought to do." 

Despite the fact that the Empress favoured the nobility 
and, later on, even increased their power, she was in the early 
days of her reign quite genuine in her desire to alleviate the 
condition of the serfs. In this she was in advance of her 
time. Her difficulty was to find some plan of liberating the 


serfs without upsetting economic conditions or injuring the 
nobility by depriving them too suddenly of unpaid labour. 
Already for this purpose in 1766 she had founded the " Free 
Economic Society," which was especially to study the agrarian 
problem ; some of its members, e.g. Princess Dashkov and 
the Archbishop of Rostov, defended the principle of serfdom, 
so much so that the former succeeded in convincing Diderot 
that " liberty would only make the peasants more and not 
less unhappy " ; and Count Nicholas Scheremetiev was 
distinctly in the minority in his opposition to the system of 
serfdom. To show the practical sincerity of his opinions he 
volunteered to be the first to set his two hundred thousand 
serfs free if only the Empress could pass a law to that effect. 

No wonder, then, that when this select body showed itself 
antagonistic to any change in the status of serfs, the General 
Assembly, representing so many vested interests, also opposed 
reform ; in fact the opposition of the deputies was practically 
unanimous on this point, even the Cossacks speaking in 
favour of serfdom. Although the Assembly had been called 
together for the express purpose of righting the wrongs of the 
nation, individual and class selfishness at once made itself 
apparent when this vexed problem came up for discussion. 

Everyone clamoured for increased rights, and even those, 
such as the merchant class, who had never been allowed to 
own serfs, now agitated to have the prohibition removed. 
The voiceless suffering serfs found very few advocates : one 
of them, Prince Shtcherbatov, propounded the doctrine that 
serfs were human beings and therefore entitled to just and 
human treatment ; but he did not oppose the system of serfdom 
as such. The current idea was that, " as the canary must be 
kept in a cage, so must the peasant be kept in bondage." 

All the more honour, therefore, to the one man who boldly 
spoke up on their behalf ; this was Korbjin, a lieutenant of 
artillery, who, himself a member of the privileged class which 
he now attacked, exposed the terrible state of existing facts 
and pleaded for legislation on behalf of the serf. But, with 
the exception of the Empress, hardly anyone shared his 
point of view. Her partial sympathy at least may be gathered 
from a marginal note she made on one of the documents laid 


before her : " If it is impossible and impracticable to recognise 
the serf as a ' person ' capable of having any legal right, then 
he is not a human being. You evidently look upon him as 
a beast of burden ; such an attitude brings us no honour in 
the eyes of the world, and it also shows a lack of love for 
mankind ! " 

At this time the power of the owner over his serfs had 
become absolute ; for them there was neither justice nor 
redress. Their masters could banish them to Siberia, send 
them to the mines, or put them in the army for life : they 
were bought and sold like cattle. 

In spite of her excellent intentions, the Empress did not 
succeed in ameliorating the lot of the unhappy peasant ; she 
even failed to abrogate the law prohibiting serfs from accus- 
ing their masters. However, when specific facts of abuse of 
power came to her knowledge she interfered to some purpose. 

Perhaps the most notorious case of this kind was that of 
the Countess Darya Saltykov, whose awful misdeeds came to 
the knowledge of Catherine in an unusual way. Two serfs 
ventured to write directly to her to acquaint her with the 
general miserable state of the human chattels owned by this 
great lady. For a wonder these letters actually reached the 
Empress, and she at once instituted an inquiry which proved 
that the Countess had done to death one hundred and thirty- 
eight serfs either by means of the knout, by starvation, or 
by letting them freeze to death. It came to light that she 
had bribed those officials who knew of her tyranny to keep 
silence, and that, secure in the immunity thus obtained, 
she gave free rein to her brutality. When all this was sub- 
stantiated, the Empress had her first pilloried and then 
incarcerated for life. 

At this period of Russian history the peasantry was 
divided into two distinct classes : free peasants, who were 
permitted to have serfs of their own if they wished, and who 
lived on land owned by the State, to which they paid direct 
taxes ; the other class, comprising more than half of the 
population, consisted of serfs. They were owned either by 
the Church, by the Imperial family, or by private owners. 
Also, all who worked in factories, whether owned by the State 


or by private individuals, and all employed in the Government 
works — canalisation, etc. — were serfs. The factory serfs en- 
joyed a few privileges — among others, the right to marry 
whom they chose, while agricultural and domestic serfs were 
paired off at the pleasure of their master. 

Half the peasantry was thus in bondage, being the absolute 
property of their owners, whom they served either by personal 
labour or by money payment : the latter could live away 
from the land and follow trades in towns, but had to pay a 
percentage of their earnings to their masters. Thus we find not 
only artisans, but even artists, musicians, and actors, as private 
property of some grandee who had paid for their training. 

Although the Empress had appeared so eager to help her 
down- trodden subjects, and in spite of certain measures of 
relief, such as in 1773, the temporary suspension of the 
masters' rights to send their serfs to Siberia, matters only 
grew worse. So inconsistent is human nature, that all the 
theoretical arguments against serfdom went to the wall when 
it suited the Empress ; by her own direct order she turned 
more than eight hundred thousand free peasants into serfs 
for the sake of recompensing military service, or in token of 
favour to her lovers. She gave away Crown lands with all the 
people living on them ; for the value of land was reckoned not 
only by area but still more by the number of " souls " on it. 

After the partition of Poland matters grew still worse, and 
one and a half millions of the free peasants of the Ukraina, 
where serfdom had never before been introduced, were turned 
by her into serfs. She only did what Boris Godounov had 
done to the free Muscovite peasantry in the sixteenth century, 
the motive being the same in both cases — both had usurped 
a throne and had therefore to curry favour with the nobility, 
which they did by supplying them with the labourers they 
were always in need of. 

The Empress was anxious to develop in the Russian 
nobility an esprit de corps such as existed among the Germanic 
nobles of the Baltic provinces. There, however, the aristoc- 
racy was of ancient lineage and formed a close ring into 
which no outsider could find admission ; while among the 
Russian nobility very few old families remained, thanks to 


those Muscovite princes whose policy it liad been to crush 
all w lu^se i)ower might interfere with their own. During the 
reign of Ivan the Terrible in tlie sixteenth century whole 
families belonging to the ancient aristocracy were killed off, 
" with all their kith and kin." That Tsar created a new aris- 
tocracy from among the lesser nobles whom he had gathered 
around him, and whom he rewarded with grants of land for 
their service at Court ; thus a new class of landlords and of 
high Court officials developed, but one to whom State service 
and official rank were of greater importance than their lands. 
Another change was introduced by Peter the Great, Find- 
ing that these great landowners did not support him sufficiently 
in his reforming activity, he began to create a new nobility 
from among the poorer class of gentry. One of the methods 
of selection he employed was to mix up all the social elements 
in his newly created army. He decreed that everybody, 
prince and noble, must rise from the ranks ; and thus, what- 
ever the social standing, leadership became the reward of 
ability and not birth. 

The bureaucracy which Peter established also helped to 
swell the number of nobles, as he arranged that nobility 
should come automatically to those who had served the 
State for a certain number of years, i.e. those who had risen 
sufficiently in the hierarchy of service, the "Tchin." This 
new order of society therefore contained representatives of 
all the various shades of aristocracy, from the descendants 
of the great princes of olden times to the newest parvenus. 

Of such elements was the Russian nobility composed when 
Catherine called the Legislative Commission. She increased 
their privileges, liberated them from the compulsory State 
service introduced by Peter I., and succeeded in bringing 
cohesion into this heterogeneous body and thus created 
an organised privileged class. Moreover, she gave them 
local self-government by elected representatives, who met 
at the special Provincial Assemblies presided over by the 
marshal of the nobility of each province. 

Again and again in the history of Russia the same 
phenomenon occurs : whenever the lot of the peasant 
became too unbearable, riots and insurrections broke out ; 

The Patriarch Philaret, father of Mikhail Romanoff, the first 
Tsar of the New Dynasty. 17th Century. 


and so it was in 1775, the terrible rising under the leadership 
of a Cossack named Pougatchev being only a symptom of the 
intolerable conditions then reigning in Russia. Pougatchev, 
who claimed to be Peter III., miraculously preserved from 
his would-be murderers, found ready support among the 
disaffected population of south-eastern Russia and the 
Cossacks of the Yaik district, many of whom were Old 
Believers who had conscientious objections to being ruled by 
a woman. At the head of this motley crew of exasperated 
and fugitive serfs, Cossacks and Kalmucks, Pougatchev soon 
terrorised the neighbourhood. He followed the tactics of 
his famous forerunner Stenka Razin, who a hundred years 
earlier had led the great rising in the Volga district. He 
offered freedom to the peasants, with " right " to kill their 
masters and to form themselves into Cossack communities. 
To the Russian peasants Pougatchev seemed a reincarnation 
of their hero Stenka Razin, and they hailed the Pretender with 
joy, especially when he published a manifesto announcing 
the abolition of serfdom. 

Terrible was the carnage committed by these lawless bands 
under their brutal leader, and so serious was the rising that 
the Empress was obliged to send an army against them and 
to set a price of five hundred thousand roubles on Pougatchev's 
head. His insurrection had been so successful that he 
planned a march on Moscow which it was absolutely necessary 
to prevent ; the two hundred thousand serfs living in that 
city would almost certainly join the insurgents. In the 
event the rising was quelled, Pougatchev was betrayed, taken 
to Moscow, and condemned to have his hands and feet cut 
off and then to be quartered alive. This was the only instance 
in which the Empress reverted to the cruelties formerly 
practised by Russian rulers. 

So bitterly did Catherine resent this rebellion, with the 
memories it evoked of her murdered husband, that in order 
to obliterate every trace of it she changed the name of the 
place where the insurrection broke out from Yaik to " Uralsk." 
She even forbade this rebellion to be mentioned ; the very 
fact must be buried in oblivion. 

The Empress was told by a wise adviser that " the real 


danger to hvv rule was not Pougatchov but the prevalent 
discontent." Influenced for a time by this advice, she made a 
desultory attempt to alleviate the lot of the peasants and serfs. 

From a national economic point of view the Empress was 
anxious to increase the agricultural population of the Volga 
district, where the fertile meadow-land had long lain waste 
for the same reason as did the Steppes, namely, want of 
security from nomad tribes. To populate these parts, and 
also to provide the Russian peasantry with teachers and 
practical illustrations of rational agriculture, the Empress 
invited colonists from Western Europe to come and settle 
on the lower Volga. She offered them free land, five years' 
exemption from taxation, and religious liberty, with the 
right to build their own churches and schools. 

In 1765 five thousand German colonists responded to 
her invitation. The first settlement was called " Ekaterin- 
enstadt " (Catherine's Town), in honour of the Empress. In 
1774 twenty-six thousand more immigrants came to Russia : 
the French immigrants, however, proved themselves unsuited 
for pioneer work and unable to battle against such fearful 
contingencies as raids by Kirghise and Kalmucks, etc. They 
soon scattered themselves all over the Empire, settling mostly 
in the cities, where they found occupation as tutors, cooks, 
ladies' maids, barbers, etc. The Germans, on the other hand, 
proved splendid colonists : thrift, persistency, and energy con- 
verted the fertile but insecure meadow-land, where the wild 
cattle had for so long been grazing at large, into prosperous 
colonies. One of these settlements was formed by Moravians. 

The hopes of the Empress that her Russian peasants 
would profit by the example of their more advanced German 
neighbours were doomed to disappointment. Fusion was 
impossible, the difference in status and culture being too 
great : on the one hand were privileged freemen, on the 
other serfs ; the Germans literate, the Russians quite ignorant. 
These German colonies presented, and still present, the same 
marked contrast to the neighbouring Russian villages : pros- 
perity, as represented by clean, solid houses, gardens, and 
good roads ; — next door, abject poverty, dirty tumbledown 
huts, and bad roads. 


By her statesmanlike action in granting these newcomers 
religious toleration Catherine secured for her Empire good and 
worthy citizens, for all those colonists became Russian subjects, 
thus forming an integral part of the Russian Empire. 

The annexation of the Crimea in 1783 was to have a 
far-reaching effect on the agrarian question. The fertile 
Steppes, hitherto exposed to the attacks of the neighbouring 
Tatars, were now open to cultivation. The peasants, at all 
times ready to go in search of better conditions, migrated 
to the new districts of South Russia, which soon became the 
granary of Russia, and within thirteen years of the annexa- 
tion the population of this " New Russia " increased from 
two hundred thousand to eight hundred thousand. 

After having succeeded in improving agriculture and 
increasing the area of arable land, Catherine turned her 
attention to the export and import trade of her country and 
to the furthering of commerce in every way. She person- 
ally prepared a treatise on manufactures, and weighed the 
advantages of trade with China and India as compared with 
Western Europe. 

She made commercial treaties with France and England, 
and wrested from Turkey at the point of the sword the " most 
favoured nation clause." Thanks to the annexation of the 
Crimea and the conquest of Otchakov and the harbour of 
Sevastopol, Russia was in a position to maintain a mercantile 
fleet on the Black Sea. But it was greatly due to the fruitful 
activity of certain Frenchmen, amongst others the Due de 
Richelieu, that Odessa developed into the important harbour 
that it is to-day. Trade with Persia and China also increased, 
and Astrakhan became an important mercantile harbour. 

For the safeguarding of her new sea-borne trade Catherine 
passed in 1785 some important maritime laws. She also 
created a " Mercantile Society " and founded a school of 
navigation. Acting on the advice of her wise counsellor 
Count Sievers, she greatly facilitated trading by further 
developing the system of canalisation begun by Peter the 
Great, linking the White and the Caspian Seas by means of 
canals between the Dvina and the Kama. 

The costly wars waged during the reign of Catherine were 


a terriblo drain upon the resources of the country. In her 
anxiety to make up the deficit she doubled the poll-tax. This 
increase in taxation nearly drove the peasants frantic ; how- 
ever, it added twenty-four million roubles to the revenue. 
Yet the State expenditure remained far in advance of the 
income, which, by the year 1796, had only increased to sixty 
million roubles, while the expenditure had reached the sum of 
seventy million to eighty million roubles. 

The drink monopoly, which supplied one-third of the total 
amount, was another great source of revenue, but it was 
raised at the cost of the moral and physical well-being of 
the nation. 

The standard of Russia's currency had been hitherto 
in copper, not in gold ; but in 1768, six years after Catherine's 
accession to power, paper money was introduced. Russia's 
finances were in a most critical condition, and the lavish 
extravagance of the Empress throughout her reign helped 
still more to impoverish the country. Each of her many 
favourites, as her acknowledged lovers were officially styled, 
received one hundred thousand roubles on the first day of 
his installation, and on his dismissal he received a fortune in 
land, serfs, and money as consolation for the loss of her 
favour. There is a terrible contrast between the luxury 
and extravagance indulged in by the Empress and her all- 
powerful minister Potemkin and the abject poverty of large 
masses of the population. 

Catherine's great and frequent wars were carried on by 
means of a large and efficient army, for Peter the Great's 
military reforms had produced excellent results. The 
Russians have always made first-rate soldiers, and their 
pluck, patience, and persistence have always been generously 
acknowledged by friend and foe alike. Catherine was for- 
tunate in having such generals as Souvorov and Roumyanzev 
to fight for her, and she was equally fortunate in her admirals : 
the names of Greigh, Elphinstone, and Dugdale will always 
be linked with some of Russia's greatest naval victories. 
Unfortunately, as Peter's immediate successors had let his 
ships rot, Catherine had practically to rebuild the navy and 
a mercantile fleet as well. It may be that because Russia 


is a continental Power, which untU recently had no seacoast 
to speak of, the Russians proper (not to confuse them with 
the inhabitants of the Baltic provinces or the Finns, who are 
born saUors) do not take kindly to a seafaring life. Therefore 
Catherine's English naval officers were often severely handi- 
capped by the inefficiency of their crew. 

The reforms begun by Peter the Great were to be carried 
on by Catherine, who was probably as remarkable a woman 
as he had been a man, and therefore eminently fitted to take 
up the work death had forced him to lay down. 

These two great personalities, however, expended their 
energy in essentially different spheres of activity. His 
principal task had been to awaken the latent energy of his 
people, exacting physical exertion and restless activity ; 
whUe it was her first aim to awaken the nation out of its 
mental lethargy, Peter the Great taught his people to work, 
showing them by his own example how to set about it. 
Catherine " the Great," as her foreign admirers called her, 
taught her people to think, proving the value of mental 
culture by her own intellectual achievements. 

All attempts at education during the first half of the 
eighteenth century were doomed to failure, for, to quote the 
historian Tatishtchev, "It is vain to look for the harvest 
before the soil is prepared for the seed " ; or, as another 
contemporary expressed it, " They (Peter the Great and 
his successors) wished to accomplish in a few years a task 
for which centuries are required. They built the edifice for 
our enlightenment on sand without first laying a solid 

The educational reforms which Peter had inaugurated were 
doomed to become so much waste-paper, as it was impossible 
to open schools without teachers or books to learn from, or 
even buildings to learn in. He issued a command to every 
town and village that elementary schools should be founded. 
This order was carried from place to place by the officials who 
were engaged in taking the census. When asked by the 
puzzled people who was to teach and what was to be taught, 
the officials gave the vague reply that an ukase dealing with 
the subject would shortly be promulgated. But the great Tsar 



ilictl witlioiit issuing tliat particular ukase. In any case 
be could not have effected this reform, as the material for 
such a scheme of national education was lacking, and time 
was needed in which to prepare it. 

All that Peter the Great had succeeded in doing was to 
establish a few technical schools, his object being to prepare 
men for practical work, for his army and navy, and for ex- 
ploiting the mineral wealth of the Empire. Thus the Artillery 
and Navigation Schools and an Engineering College were estab- 
lished, with a staff of foreign teachers. The navigation school 
served as a training-ground for teachers, and two by two 
the students who had finished their course were sent away 
to other centres to teach others what they had just learned ; 
but as the places vacated were not fully supplied by new 
students, the chief school was soon obliged to suspend its 
activity. However, by this means forty-two schools were 
established by 1722, the principal subjects taught being 
arithmetic and geometry. The attendance of pupils was 
compulsory, and they were treated as servants of the State ; 
every breach of rules was dealt with as a breach of the law 
and punishment was proportionately severe. All this did 
not conduce to an influx of scholars. The Academy of Science, 
on the other hand, could not flourish on account of the lack 
of students, and the " Gymnasia " or high schools for boys, 
were frequented only by the children of foreigners domiciled 
in the two capitals. 

Peter I.'s orders in regard to the duty of the Church towards 
popular education and enlightenment had resulted in the 
establishment of forty-six Church schools, and at the time of 
his death nearly every town could boast of a church school as 
well as of a secular one. But evidently the time for national 
education had not yet come ; the people put forward a 
multiplicity of reasons why they should be exempt from 
sending their children to school. 

An attempt to fuse the Church and secular schools by 
introducing mathematical teaching into the Church schools 
came to nought through the refusal of the ecclesiastical 
bodies to teach matters unconnected with religion. Thus the 
artificially nourished secular schools created by the Tsar 


collapsed after his death, and in 1744 only eight were in 
existence, even these being attached to garrisons and attended 
by children of soldiers, with officers and non-commissioned 
officers as teachers. 

Until the reign of Elizabeth (1742) nothing more was done 
for education. Then a fresh start was made, owing to the 
influence of her adviser and Minister of PubUc Instruction, 
Ivan Shouvalov, who, himself a thoroughly cultured man, 
wished to lead his people from darkness into hght. He pre- 
sented his art collection to the nation as a nucleus for a future 
Academy of Arts, and in 1755 founded the University of 
Moscow and also two Gymnasia to prepare boys for a higher 
education. Shouvalov succeeded in estabHshing schools even 
in such a distant part of the Empire as Orenburg. It was 
also from the extreme north and south of the Empire that the 
first Russian authors hailed — Trediakovski from Astrakhan, 
and Lomonossov from Archangel. 

The schools estabhshed by Shouvalov formed the Knk 
between those of the Petrine period and those to be created 
by Catherine II. 

There was as yet, however, no general desire on the part 
of the nation for education, especially on Government fines ; 
the nobifity refused to send their children to the Government 
schools, preferring to have them taught at home in the tra- 
ditional way. The burghers were generally successful in 
their plea for the exemption from schoofing of their children ; 
thus only a limited number, and those mostly the children 
of foreigners, were available for instruction : even the Gym- 
nasium in St Petersburg suffered from lack of human material 
to work upon. 

The Academy and the University of Moscow were prac- 
tically without students, while the Faculty of Medicine in the 
same town had but one student. Lomonossov, who was made 
Inspector-General of Education, frankly admitted that not 
only was there no University to speak of, but not even the 
suggestion of one. He did his utmost to place education 
on a sounder basis, not only financially by getting a large 
grant from the State, but also socially by securing a better 
status for the teaching profession. For example, the sons 


of priests were encouraged by the ecclesiastical authorities 
to become teachers, but should they later on wish to change 
their ]>rofossion, the only other one open to them was the 
army, wliich they could, however, enter only as common 

Sucli were the conditions of education when Catherine 
became Empress of Russia. Fully reahsing the necessity for 
national education, she made it her definite aim to bring 
intellectual enUghtenment \Adthin reach of aU her subjects : 
it Mas this purpose which gave moral value to her reforms. 

After a careful study of the subject, Catherine came to 
the conclusion that a complete reorganisation of the existing 
educational system, whether in the home or in the school, 
was urgently required. In the homes of the nobility the 
drastic methods of Sylvester's " Domostroi " were still in 
vogue — unbending severity prevailed ; no caressing of children 
was allowed (except wdth the stick), and the instruction 
imparted w^as almost exclusively of a religious nature, while 
that of the schools was primaril}^ utiUtarian. It was the 
intention of the Empress to change aU this, and to introduce 
real education as opposed to a mere acquiring of knowledge. 

Ha^dng reahsed the failure of the old compulsory methods, 
Catherine now decided to see what persuasion w^ould do. 
Education w^as to be absolutely voluntary and attendance 
at school to be made as attractive as possible. 

Catherine invited Baron Grimm, with whom she had long 
been in correspondence on the subject, to become Director of 
Russian Education ; but he dechned this thankless task, 
preferring to give advice to his Imperial correspondent by 

At last the Empress had to acknowledge the fact that 
bureaucratic education would not supply the want : some- 
thing absolutely different had to be tried, and a solution 
of the difficulty was suggested to her by Colonel Betzkoi, 
in whom she found a keen and sympathetic collaborator in 
her educational reforms. He proposed the estabhshment of 
boarding-schools into which children of five and six years of 
age should be admitted and carefuUy brought up until they 
reached their eighteenth or twentieth year. 


He was convinced of the necessity of withdrawing children 
as early as possible from the coarse and evil influence of their 
homes and thus preventing them from acquiring the bad habits 
of their parents. By this means he hoped to regenerate the 
race and to evolve " a better race which would produce a new 
t3rpe of parents, who in their turn would bring up their children 
in the good principles implanted in them." Colonel Betzkoi's 
scheme was sanctioned in 1774 by the Empress, and Lomonos- 
sov, as Chief of the Educational Department, declared himself 
ready to establish such boarding-schools for infants in con- 
nection with the Gymnasia. 

In order to procure the necessary material for this experi- 
ment, advertisements were sent out and notices pubhshed 
in the newspaper, with the result that sixty-four infants 
were brought for inspection, thirty of whom were selected 
by a special committee. The trouble felt by parents was 
that they had to sign away their children for the whole 
period of education, and also that they were allowed to see 
them only at rare intervals, and then always in the presence 
of a teacher. 

Catherine's ideal of female education was to give to girls 
the same intellectual enlightenment as to boys. Their minds 
were to be afforded a fair opportunity of development by 
means of serious reading ; by study and thought they were 
to fit themselves for their particular work in life. In accord- 
ance with this ideal the Empress founded the Institute of 
Smolna for daughters of the nobility, on the model of Saint 
Cyr established by Madame de Maintenon. 

Here, under the able superintendence of Madame Lafont, 
a new type of Russian woman was turned out. The education 
may have been superficial as compared with that of the 
present day, great importance being given to the acquisition 
of good manners and fluent French ; still, it marked a great 
stride forward. The ideal was a high one : good housekeepers, 
faithful wives, and careful mothers were to be turned out by 
this " Institute." 

For the boys Colonel Betzkoi was enabled to found a Cadet 
Corps on the same lines ; and although critics sneered at the 
multiplicity of subjects taught instead of imparting purely 


military instruction, yet Russia surely could not but gain by 
an institution whose ideal it was not merely to produce skilful 
officers but good and cultured citizens. 

These experiments affected solely the upper classes, and 
the problem of bringing education within reach of the masses 
had not yet been solved. The Educational Commission of 
1770 proposed compulsory education as it existed in Prussia. 
There was to be one school to every hundred or two hundred 
families, the expenses to be paid by the parish : but this 
scheme was obviously premature and fell to the ground. 

The Empress corresponded with various celebrities on 
this matter, and especially with the Emperor of Austria, 
as it had been suggested to her that the Austrian system of 
normal schools might be applicable to her country's need. 
She spent much thought on this problem, carefully studying 
pedagogical works, especially the writings of Commenius, 
Fenelon, and Locke. 

In a letter to Baron Grimm she wrote that she took such 
infinite trouble over each educational scheme that it took her 
at least a year to consider each point. Yet she comforted 
herself with the thought that in so vast an Empire as hers 
one year more or less did not matter. She required time to 
let her plans mature ; as she put it : "If God would grant 
me the length of days of a Methuselah, then I might be able 
to accomplish sometliing for the elementary education of 

The first necessity was to provide teachers, and, after 
having carefully considered Joseph II. 's advice, she at last 
decided to introduce the Austrian method. At her request 
the Emperor sent her in 1786 Jankewics, a Serb, whose Slav 
origin, Greek Orthodox rehgion, and knowledge of Russian 
eminently qualified him for his task. The Emperor wrote 
of him: "I am sending you a man, capable, clever, fuU^of 
knowledge — in fact, the best man possible." 

The scheme proved a success, and Russia was fairly started 
on the work of providing general education. Catherine did 
not share the idea so often expressed by a certain school of 
Russian pohticians, that the education of the masses would 
be detrimental to the State. She wrote to Baron Grimm : 


" No one can frighten me with the danger of an educated 
people and nation." She agreed with him that only fools and 
knaves fear an educated people : and she proved the sincerity 
of her beUef by untiring efforts to promote education. 

During her reign two hundred and twenty-three schools 
were opened, and from the two training centres — St Peters- 
burg and Moscow — a network of schools of all grades 
gradually spread over the country. The Empress took a 
personal deHght in her new schools, saw to the pubUcation 
of suitable school-books, to the training of teachers and the 
hygiene of the class-rooms : in fact, it was she who laid the 
foundation of the present system of Russian schools. But 
with regard to elementary education, the eighteenth century 
was not destined to see it permanently estabhshed. The 
various attempts made proved at least partly abortive, and 
after twenty years of honest effort to bestow upon her nation 
the blessings of education Catherine experienced keen dis- 
illusionment. She did her best, and posterity accords to her 
honour for having done so. To secure for her people better 
medical care, she also founded in 1774 a Medical College, 
and provided for an increase of doctors and chemists. 

But while the Empress was thus trying to lay the founda- 
tions of the education so sorely needed by the nation, the' 
Academy was only just keeping itself aUve, having practically 
no students to attend the lectures ; in 1783 the only two in 
residence were found to be so ignorant by the new President, 
Princess Dashkov, that she took them personally in hand 
and made them come to her on alternate weeks at eight o'clock 
in the morning for instruction. 

The Empress had appointed this capable friend of hers 
President of the Academy of Science. The energetic Princess 
put her shoulder to the wheel, and during her term of presi- 
dency, 1783-98, the Academy did excellent work. Entomo- 
logical, archaeological, geographical, and zoological studies 
especially were promoted. 

Six volumes of a lexicon of the Russian language were 
compiled, in the preparation of which the Empress took her 
share ; very valuable historical documents were brought to 
light, especially " Nestor's Chronicle," the source from which 


has biH'ii drawn the history of Russia's early days, and the 
MS. of the famous epic, " The Raid of Igor." A scientific 
exploration of Siberia was set on foot ; astronomical observa- 
tions were encouraged, etc., etc. 

The Empress would have liked some eminent savants to 
settle in her Empire, but her personal invitation to Voltaire, 
Diderot, and Rousseau to make Russia their home was not 
accepted, only Diderot consenting to pay a short visit to St 

Catherine purchased rare collections of books, and trans- 
ferred the valuable library which the Metropolitan of Kiev 
had presented to Warsaw, to St Petersburg, where it formed 
the nucleus of the Russian Imperial Library. 

The Empress also furthered art. In 1764 she founded 
the Academy of Art, and encouraged foreign artists to visit 
St Petersburg. Amongst others came Madame Lebrun, 
who painted many portraits. Catherine's agents, especially 
Baron Grimm, bought up numerous art treasures on her 
behalf — sculptures, pictures, cameos. The groAving luxury 
of the capital offered a fair chance to artists and architects — 
not only to ItaHans, but also to a number of Russian pupils 
of Rastrelli. This master had served Russia for fiftj^ years, 
during which time the artistic sense had developed rapidly, 
and many Russian nobles now built themselves fine palaces, 
which they filled with art treasures. 

During the first half of her reign the Imperial authoress 
sympathised Avith all literary effort, and consequently the 
intellectual awakening of her country had free scope to 
develop, and poetry, drama, and satirical and philosophical 
writings were produced by Russian authors. Later on, 
however, Catherine's attitude towards intellectual progress, 
as expressed in the contemporaneous Russian literature, 
underwent a great change ; for in proportion as Russian 
society learned to think and reason for itself, the unhealthy 
social and economic conditions began to influence literary 

Catherine proved herself unable to endure criticism, 
whether of her country or of her actions, though there was 
much to criticise. 


One of those who dared to do so was the pubUcist Novikov, 
who, not satisfied with superficial official reforms, tried to go 
to the root of the evil and work for a true moral regeneration. 
He edited periodicals and tried to practise what he preached 
in them, showing himself a benefactor of the people in more 
ways than one ; he estabHshed a printing and bookselHng 
business from which good books, especially translations, were 
sent all over the Empire. He also did his 
best to further education, and during a 
famine organised reHef for the sufferers. 
In his satirical writings he expressed in 
quite an amiable way his criticisms of 
economic conditions, especially of serf- 
dom ; and as the Empress had always 
previously ranged herself on the same 
side it came as a great surprise to every- 
body when this truly good and patriotic 
man was arrested and condemned to 
death on the plea that he was guilty 
of pohtical agitation. The only possible 
explanation of this act is, that both 
Church and State were against him 
because he was a Freemason. The 
death sentence, however, was changed 
to one of imprisonment in the Schliissel- 
burg fortress, where for four years he 
occupied the very cell in which the unfortunate Tsar Ivan 
had dragged out his miserable existence. 

Although Catherine had theoretically upheld progressive 
ideals, had professed humanitarian and philosophical principles, 
had discussed with Diderot the regeneration of Russia on 
constitutional lines, and had even contemplated the emanci- 
pation of the serfs, she had no spiritual understanding. As 
she could neither understand nor control them, she objected 
to all spiritual movements, whether Mystic or Pietistic, 
which were finding favour with certain sections of Russian 

As time went on her democratic and republican sympathies 
underwent a complete revulsion. This may have been due 

Mongol Mask-Visor. 

(13th century.) 


in part to the result, as exemplified in the French Revolution, 
of the " Liberty, Fraternity, Equality " doctrine preached 
by her great French teachers. 

Tliis change of attitude showed itself in her domestic 
pohcy, and led to the repression of every expression of 
sympathy mth France and Liberalism. Even the use of 
such words as " Hberty " and " citizenship " was prohibited, 
and writers like Cicero and Demosthenes were banned because 
they were repubHcans ; and although the old Russian custom 
of cutting out the tongue w^as no longer resorted to, Catherine 
found other means just as effectual for silencing the friends 
of the new ideas. 

The second Uterary victim of Catherine's inability to 
stand criticism was Radistchev, who, under the Uterarj^ guise 
of a description of a journey from St Petersburg to Moscow, 
described the appaUing condition of the serfs, at the same 
time showing how this might be changed for the better. In 
spite of the vaunted hberty of the press guaranteed by the 
Empress, Radistchev was banished to Siberia. 

The dramatist von Wisin wrote comedies in which he 
also denounced the crying evils of Russian society, but his 
position as secretary to Catherine's Minister, Count Panin, 
seems to have secured him a certain immunity. 

What Catherine craved for was praise and adulation, 
which the first Russian writer of odes, the poet Derjavin, 
gave her unstintingly. 

There is a terrible irony in the fact that Catherine, who 
had wTitten so profusely on the necessity of reform, should 
later have been the first ruler to use her autocratic power 
for the muzzling of the press. Her innate love of power and 
consequent desire to dominate she had perhaps to a certain 
extent held in check while under the influence of the French 
philosophers. After all, she was first and foremost Auto- 
crat of Russia, and she came to see that the principles of 
the Revolution, if apphed to her own country, would have 
unpleasant consequences for the rulers of Russia. 

Peter the Great had found himself handicapped in his 
reforms by the lack of native collaborators, and in the statue 
erected to his memory by Catherine this fact is strikingly 


typified in the whole conception of the monument : a strong 
man riding bareback on a horse which he is in the act of 
taming ; it rears under his iron hand, but is dominated by him. 

The monument erected in the reign of Alexander II. to 
the memory of his great predecessor Catherine is, in its way, 
just as typical of the change which had come over the nation 
in the time which had elapsed between Peter's first attempts 
at reform and hers. The seed Peter the Great had sown was 
bringing forth fruit ; no longer alone, or surrounded by 
foreigners, was the ruler who carried on the work he had 
begun. The artist, a Russian, has symbolised this change in 
the arrangement of the monument. 

High above everyone towers this wonderful woman, who by 
her exceptional gifts overshadowed aU around her, but who 
nevertheless owed the success of her reign to able and gifted 
men who supported her, carrying out what she had planned. 
They are all Russians whom the artist has grouped around 
the base of the statue, and they are truly representative of the 
various spheres in which such great progress had been made 
during Catherine's reign. These feUow- workers of the Empress 
are portrayed in an attitude of friendly intercourse. Potemkin, 
the " Prince of Darkness," as the people called this all- 
powerful Minister, is seated in a carelessly arrogant attitude, 
one foot on a turban crushing it, as though in scorn of the 
conquered foe — who had not even been actually conquered 
by him, but by the two unpretentious soldiers at his side. 
These are in the act of reporting their splendid victories : their 
names are Roumyanzev, the hero of the Danube battles, and 
Souvorov, the idol of the Russian soldier, their " Little Father." 

The next group represents the naval victories : there 
stands Count Alexei Orlov-Tchesmenski, holding a telescope 
in his hand, symbohcal of his share in the battle of Tchesme 
for which the Empress had given him all the glory, but which 
had been merely watched by him from a distance, while 
the destruction of the Turkish fleet had been accomplished 
by Elphinstone, Greigh, and Dugdale. Beside Orlov stands 
Admiral Tchitchagov holding a golden sword in his hand, a 
symbol of deeds done and glory won in honest battle against 
the Northern foe. 


But Catherine's reign had more to show than merely 
conquest, and this is represented by the figure of Betzkoi, 
her helper and adviser in educational and humanitarian 
reforms, and of Besborodko, the polished diplomatist and 
signatory for Russia of the Treaty of Jassy. Both of these are 
looking at the plans of the Foundling house which they were 
instrumental in founding. One other group completes the 
number of helpers thus immortalised : Princess Dashkov, 
that brilhanth^ clever and cultured woman, is depicted as 
absorbed in the study of an open book, symboHcal of her 
work as President of the Academy of Science. Coupled with 
her is Derjavin, the poet laureate of the Great Empress, who 
seems to be reciting some grand ode in praise of Catherine's 
victories and her aggrandisement of Russia. 

If only the internal conditions of Russia had been managed 
with the same success as her foreign poUcy, the nation would 
have had more reason to bless the memory of the ruler who 
began her reign ostensibly as a behever in the great humani- 
tarian principles of equality and liberty, and who wrote in 
her maxims for the guidance of her grandson, " Before God 
aU men are equal," yet who left the majority of her humble 
subjects in as hopeless a pHght as ever. She who in the 
beginning had expressed her desire to aboHsh the word 
" slave," and who wrote, " I want obedience to law and not 
slavery," and again, " Liberty is the soul of aU things, and 
aU is dead without it " — nevertheless turned two miUion 
three hundred thousand free men into serfs merely to satisfy 
the greed of her favourites and courtiers. 

Posing before an admiring world as a liberal reformer, 
Catherine was nevertheless an autocrat by nature and instinct. 
She was greatW pleased when told by Montesquieu that auto- 
cracy might be philosophically justified for Russia, and that 
there was nothing derogatory in a comparison between her 
rule and Asiatic despotism. 




The Empress died suddenly at the age of sixtj^-six, of an 
apoplectic fit. Her death brought unmitigated joy to one 
individual — her son, of whom his friend Count Rostopchin 
had written only a short time previously : " The Grand Duke 
is bursting with impatience, and can think of nothing but the 
moment when he shall ascend the throne." 

"Le roi est mort, vive le roi ! " — thus said the clever dip- 
lomatist Besborodko, who was the only one of all Catherine's 
ministers to find favour with the new Emperor. Some say 
that he took an active part in destroying Catherine's will, in 
which she had passed over her son and appointed as her suc- 
cessor her beloved grandson, the Grand Duke Alexander. 

Historians agree in surmising that if Catherine had lived 
a few years longer Paul would never have come to the 
throne. This view was shared by the English ambassador, who 
already, in 1782, had written to Lord Grenville to this effect. 
Between mother and son there had been strained relations, 
the ambitious Empress fearing in him a possible rival ; for 
there had always been a party which contended that the 
power should have been given into the hands of the Grand 
Duke at his coming of age. This son of so magnificent and 
clever a mother proved himself physically and intellectually 
her inferior. 

That he rejoiced when she died is only natural when we 
take into consideration the fact that he had been purposely 
kept back from all participation in affairs of State ; that, 
although Grand Admiral of the Navy, he was never even 



perniittt^d to Wsit ICronstadt ; and that when for once he 
was Avith the army on active service in Finland, orders bad 
been given by the Empress that he was not to be told anything 
of importance. She denied him the right to manage liis own 
domestic affairs, interfering to such an extent that he and his 
charming second wife, a Wiirtemburg princess, were not per- 
mitted to keep their children, who were taken from them and 
brought up in their grandmother's palace bj- tutors of her 
choice, the parents being permitted to see them only once 
a week. 

The " Young Court," as the household of the Grand Duke 
Paul was called, was e&tabhshed at Gatchina, a place some 
miles outside the capital. There the Grand Duke was forced 
to live practically in retirement, and spent his time drilling 
soldiers in the Prussian way. This occupation finally became 
a mania with him. 

The death of the Empress Uberated him from his invidious 
position and gave him his birthright — unUmited power, for 
which he had always craved. Unfortunately, he did not 
know how to use this newly acquired liberty, and the first 
acts of his reign were merely acts of revenge. This is hardly 
to be wondered at, for he had suffered keenly from the insolence 
of his mother's favourites. He had also nursed a bitter 
hatred against those of her friends who had assisted her 
in the cowp d'etat which had brought death to liis father. 
The Emperor had the body of his murdered father exhumed 
and the coffin put beside that of the late Empress. Thus the 
honours denied to Peter III. thirty-three years earher were 
now accorded to him. Paul's revenge was a refined one 
— Count Alexei Orlov was made to walk behind the coffin 
of his victim, and was forced to carry on a cushion the 
Imperial Crown, of which he had robbed the hapless Emperor. 
The Princess Daskhov, who had been the moving spirit in 
that conspiracy, was banished from the capital and prohibited 
from residing in any one place for more than three days at 
a time : hunted Uke a deer, she found no rest until the Empress 
prevailed upon her husband to let the unhappy lady hve in 
peace on her estate. Potemkin's bones were exhumed and 
thrown into a ditch : " Sic transit gloria mundi " was the 

PAUL I. 191 

sardonic remark of the Emperor when the deed was accom- 
phshed. He banished every friend of his late mother and 
filled the vacant posts with his Gatchina soldiers, most of 
whom were quite uneducated men. 

The military system which Paul I. had worked out in 
Gatchina was now introduced into the army, and brilliant 
and experienced generals and field-marshals had to submit 
to being instructed in strategy and tactics by a German 
lacquey who could only speak broken Russian. 

In fact, the Emperor reversed everything : the cumber- 
some rococo uniforms, with powdered wigs and queues, which 
Potemkin had replaced by ordinary uniforms, were reintro- 
duced ; and when the famous old Field-marshal Souvorov 
criticised this unpractical order, he was sent into banishment : 
he had, however, only expressed what the whole exasperated 
military world felt. 

However, this mania for reversing everything proved a 
blessing to a few innocent victims of Catherine's reign : Novi- 
kov was liberated from Schliisselburg, and Radistchev was 
recalled from Siberia, as were many Polish patriots. 

This policy of reversion made itself felt also in the realm of 
foreign politics. It was Paul's ambition to be the arbitrator 
of Europe, and to this end he addressed a letter to all the 
Powers in which he protested his love of peace and of hu- 
manity, expressing his disgust for war and declaring that he 
had no desire to increase his territory. His love of peace 
was soon drowned in his hatred for republican France, which 
influenced him to change his policy. 

The bone of contention was Malta, to which he laid claim 
as Grand Master of the Order of St John of Jerusalem, a 
dignity which had been conferred upon him in 1798 by one- 
half of the Knights who had been expelled from their head- 
quarters by Napoleon. England's antagonistic attitude to- 
wards his claim also proved an irritation to Paul, who clung 
tenaciously to what he considered to be his rights. He greatly 
prided himself on his position as Grand Master, and lavishly 
distributed the decoration of the Order. It was rather an 
anomalous position for a Greek Orthodox to be at the head 
of a Roman Catholic Order, and to soothe the deeply offended 


Popo the Emporor gave permission for an active Roman 
propaganda to be started in his Empire. 

Suddenly and unexpectedly he also formed an alliance with 
Austria and England, as well as with Naples and Turkey, 
against France. In 1799, on the suggestion of his allies that 
they would like to have the great soldier Souvorov as general- 
issimo of the Austrian and Russian armies, the Emperor 
recalled him from banishment in a flattering letter, to which 
the old man simply replied : " Souvorov is coming ! " Nor 
did he disappoint the trust placed in him. Aiter his famous 
passage over the Alps and his successful campaign in northern 
Italy, he was granted the title of " Prince of Italy." 

Before long, however, there was another international 
change of politics, for the astute First Consul had by this 
time taken the measure of the Russian ruler, and, by dint 
of flattery and such kindly attentions as sending him 
back the Russian prisoners of war, he succeeded in winning 
him over, with the result that a new coalition of Powers 

Henceforth Paul I. became an ardent admirer of Napoleon, 
to whom he wrote : " Whenever I see at the head of a nation 
a man who knows how to rule and how to fight, my heart is 
attracted towards him. I am writing to acquaint you with 
my dissatisfaction with England, who violates every article 
of the law of nations and has no guide but her egoism and 
self-interest. I wish to unite with you in putting an end to 
the unjust proceedings of her Government." He followed 
up this letter by breaking off relations with England and 
dismissing her ambassador with brutal insolence. With the 
ambitious Corsican, on the other hand, the Emperor was 
now on such excellent terms that they even planned together 
a division of Europe. Turkey was to be dismembered and 
a Greek Republic under Russian protection to be set up : 
India was to be attacked from Central Asia, and Khiva 
and Bokhara to be annexed en route. In 1801 Georgia was 
definitely annexed, and thus the protectorate established by 
Catherine found its logical conclusion. 

One way in which Paul demonstrated his friendliness 
to Napoleon, and incidentally his antagonism to the late 




Empress, was by expelling all those Bourbons to whom she 
had given a refuge. 

The four years of Paul's reign may be described as one 
long nightmare to his subjects, who went in terror of their 
lives. In 1800 the Imperial Chancellor wrote : " The ill- 
humour and melancholy of our master is increasing by leaps 
and bounds." Indeed, the arbitrariness of this master was 
fast driving his ship of State upon the rocks. 

Church of the 13th Century. 

The whole country groaned under the government of a 
ruler whose eccentricity bordered on insanity. 

Two men only seemed able to manage the unhappy 
Emperor : one the cultured Count Rostopchin, who amused and 
humoured him ; the other Kutaissov, an ex-Turkish prisoner 
of war, first valet, then barber, and ultimately Master of the 
Horse to Paul I. This man acquired such power over the 
Emperor that it was only through him that any favour could 
be obtained. To these two names must be added that of 
Araktcheyev, who, though hard, cruel, and relentless in 
character, yet showed himself capable of sincere and devoted 
attachment to Paul, to whom he acted as military adviser. 



At his coronation lie lavishly distributed largesse, and 
gave away eighty- two thousand free peasants, who now 
became the property of the recipients of Imperial favour. 
He ruined the finances of his country through his ignorance 
of the laws regulating the value of paper money. He was 
kind by fits and starts, and must have been capable of tender- 
ness and afifection, for he succeeded in winning the love of his 
wife and that of one or two such men as Araktcheyev and 
Kutaissov ; but, on the whole, his irascibility and unevenness 
of temper and violent likes and dislikes made him a terror to all 
who had to do with him. In fact, one contemporary wrote : 
" We seem to have returned to the days of Ivan the Terrible." 
AU his officials and ministers felt like " galley slaves " ; 
officers had their honour outraged by being flogged, and 
soldiers were actually killed for innocently falling foul of 
some unimagmable caprice of the Emperor, Whole regiments 
were exiled to Siberia from the parade-ground, and were 
only recalled through the intercession of Paul's omnipotent 
favourite Kutaissov. 

He grew worse as time went on ; even the Empress and 
the Grand Dukes were not safe from his violent caprices, and 
the feeling soon became prevalent that a stop must be put 
to this state of affairs at all costs. It seemed, indeed, as 
though the days of Ivan the Terrible had returned, but with 
the difference that the nation had developed both in intelli- 
gence and initiative ; the whole country was living in terror, 
and, as the leading men realised that a debacle was inevitable, 
it is not to be wondered at that a conspiracy was set on foot. 

During the four years of his reign the Emperor exiled to 
Siberia twelve thousand officers and soldiers for failing to 
carry out accurately his minute regulations concerning wigs, 
buttons, etc. The prisons of the capital were found to contain 
nine hundred offenders against the Imperial madman's 
arbitrary orders, for even the wearing of certain hats and 
coats of the French fashion was an offence punishable by 

The general fear which he inspired pleased the Emperor, 
who was unable to perceive any danger in the ominous silence 
of his entourage — unlike his mother, who once expressed her- 

PAUL I. 195 

self to the effect that she was not afraid of audible grumbling 
and murmuring, but of silence only. Even such an upright 
man as Count Panin was in favour of getting the Emperor to 
abdicate by means of a coup d'etat ; and, in the depth of 
night, he and Count Pahlen met together to discuss the matter 
with the Grand Duke Alexander. The idea was to induce 
Paul to abdicate on the grounds of ill-health. 

Senators, commanders, and ofificers joined in this con- 
spiracy, but General Benningsen, Count Zoubov, and Count 
Pahlen were the soul of it, and contemplated more drastic 
measures than Alexander would have sanctioned or Panin 
would have permitted himself to think of. 

To his own undoing, the Emperor, in one of his unreason- 
able fits of fury, influenced by the insinuations made by 
Pahlen against Panin, banished the latter to his estate. This 
clever intriguer also succeeded in isolating the Emperor from 
his friends Rostopchin and Araktcheyev. The climax was 
hurried on by the Emperor himself, who threatened to incar- 
cerate his wife and daughter and to banish his sons. 

The suspicious nature of Paul I., which was always on the 
look-out for danger even where it did not exist, led him to 
turn his palace into a fortress surrounded by a moat with a 
drawbridge, and with cannon on the ramparts. All these 
precautions, however, could not save him from treachery 
within the walls. On the evening of 12th March 1801 the 
moment for striking came. The Grand Duke Alexander knew 
that as far as he was concerned his all was at stake : for him 
failure meant imprisonment ; success — a crown. While certain 
of the younger conspirators were penetrating into the palace, 
where bribery and treason had opened the doors, Count 
Pahlen was closeted with Alexander. The tension of this hour 
can be imagined ; relief could only be found in the thought 
that the nation had to be delivered from the tyranny of its 
insane ruler, the plan being that he should be forced to 
abdicate and Alexander appointed Regent during his father's 
lifetime. What actually followed was a hideous crime, 
which Rostopchin and Araktcheyev declared later on they 
would have prevented had they been on the spot. 

When the Emperor, who was wakened out of his sleep, 


refused to sign the document of abdication presented to him 
hy the intruders, a struggle ensued. The unhappy man was 
stabbed and strangled to death. It was indeed truly said 
of him " that he had not enjoyed one moment's happiness, 
and that he died as miserably as he had lived." 

When his son Alexander was informed of this awful and 
to him unexpected tragedy, he broke down completely ; for 
this he was sternly rebuked by Count Pahlen, who reminded 
him that his duty was not to weep but to rule. When the 
news of the assassination reached the Empress she at once 
asserted herself, and, wishing to follow the precedent set 
by Catherine I., demanded that she should be made ruler in 
her husband's stead ; she was, however, obliged to give way 
to her eldest son, to whom the army had already sworn 

It has been said that with the strangulation of Paul the 
stifled soul of the Russian nation was once more enabled to 
breathe freely. How true this is may be judged from a 
letter \\Titten by the late Emperor's daughter-in-law to her 
mother, in which she describes the events of that memorable 
12th of March : " Certainly Russia wUl now be able to breathe 
again after her four years of oppression." 




When the news of Paul's death reached Napoleon he was 
dismayed, for he felt that he had lost a valuable tool. 
England, on the other hand, rejoiced. 

The young Emperor Alexander's desire was for peace 
so that he might have time in which to establish the reforms 
he had been planning while Grand Duke, and also to ensure 
the economic prosperity of his nation. He abrogated the 
" armed neutrality " which was so obnoxious to England, 
and wrote a personal letter to George III. just in the nick 
of time to avert war with Great Britain, who had been 
Russia's best customer for her natural products until the 
Emperor Paul severely handicapped the trade of his own 
country by declaring war upon her. In the meanwhile he 
also made peace with Napoleon, who sent his aide-de-camp 
to St Petersburg, where he was received most graciously 
by Alexander, an ardent admirer of republican principles. 
He thought to please the Frenchman by addressing him as 
" Citizen," little realising the changes that had been passing 
over France. 

This visit had far-reaching results, as Count Panin, who 
was still Foreign Minister, concluded a convention in which, 
among other things, Russia and France mutually agreed not 
to give protection to political refugees — to Legitimists and 
Poles respectively. Prince Czartoryski, who hoped that 
in serving Alexander he might serve Poland too, bitterly 
resented the pact. He admitted that such an arrangement 
was perhaps natural between two Governments who wished 



to be at peace with each other, but it boded no good to his 
country. Czartoryski, liowever, was assured by his Imperial 
friend tliat " the destinies of Poland were as dear to him as 
ever," and the Prince trusted in Alexander's sincerity. 

Napoleon rightly called this short period of quiet a mere 
truce, for relations between the two countries were still 
strained. Very little was needed to provoke an outbreak 
of hostility, and grievances on both sides soon made them- 
selves felt. 

Not long after this the Emperor removed Count Panin 
from office, and even from St Petersburg itself, as he was a 
constant reminder to him of the conspiracy which had raised 
him to power. The new Minister of Foreign Affairs was 
Count Kotchoubey, one of Alexander's intimate friends, who 
tried to follow a policy of general goodwill towards all nations 
and of alliance with none. In this way he hoped to secure 
the rest the country needed so sorely in order to recuperate 
after the great wars of the last two reigns. The Emperor 
and his ministers were agreed that Russia had incurred great 
loss of time, money, and blood through participating in 
European complications. There was no necessity for doing 
so, and charity was now to begin at home : the nation was 
to have its full share of the Emperor's attention. Leave 
Europe to fight her own battles ! 

These pleasant plans, however, were not destined to be 
fulfilled ; for, first through circumstances over which he 
had no control, then quite against his own will, and later 
on in accordance with his changed will, the pacific policy of 
Alexander was turned into one of war, which resulted in 
glory for the Emperor himself and an increased prestige for 
Russia ; the nation, however, suffered. 

The first link in this chain which was to draw Russia into 
the vortex of European politics was forged at Memel, where 
in 1802 the young Emperor and Friedrich Wilhelm III, of 
Prussia had an interview. A warm friendship sprang up 
between the two monarchs as a result of this meeting, but 
the foundations were also laid of further complications, as 
Alexander I. and Friedrich Wilhelm made certain compromis- 
ing arrangements without the knowledge of their ministers. 


After Kotchoubey's term of office, which was of very 
short duration, he was succeeded by Prince Czartoryski, who 
carried on the peaceful policy of political isolation with the 
definite ambition of seeing his beloved Imperial friend " arbi- 
trator of peace for the civilised world." This minister, who 
possessed the Emperor's fullest confidence, aimed at recon- 
ciling Alexander's passionate desire for doing good with 
the nation's craving for military glory ; in fact, Alexander's 
reign was to " inaugurate a new era of justice and right in 
European politics." 

Although Alexander was delighted with Czartoryski's 
project, events did not favour its fulfilment. This scheme 
included the liberation of all Greeks and Slavs who were under 
a foreign yoke, and the introduction of justice and modera- 
tion in international politics. But the whole idea was far 
too Utopian, besides clashing with the ambitions of Napoleon, 
who himself desired to play the leading role and would 
brook no rival. 

The spell of peace which Russia was enjoying was not 
destined to last long ; she could not remain indifferent to 
such a violation of all the laws of justice as the execution by 
Napoleon's orders of the Due d'Enghien, who had been seized 
in a neutral country. In consequence of this, relations with 
France were strained to breaking point, and negotiations with 
England were opened up. 

For the first time in the history of nations it was proposed 
that European differences should be settled by international 
arbitration, and the honour of this suggestion is due to Prince 
Adam Czartoryski, whose friend and colleague Novossiltzev 
was sent in 1 804 to England as special envoy. The instructions 
of M. de Novossiltzev contained the following suggestions : 
" The peace of Europe can only be preserved by means of 
a League, formed under the auspices of Russia and England, 
which would be joined by all the second-class States and by 
all those who really wish to remain at peace. In order that 
such a League should effectually resist the disturbers of peace 
and be firmly established, it is necessary that the two pro- 
tecting Powers should maintain a certain degree of preponder- 
ance in the affairs of Europe ; for they are the only ones 


who by their position are always interested in order and 
justice being maintained, and wlio by their union would be 
able to maintain them." 

In the secret instructions given him by Alexander and his 
Foreign Minister -we find the following reference to Turkey : 
'* The Ottoman Empire is another country whose fate will 
have an influence on that of the rest of Europe. The most 
intimate concert is necessary between Russia and England 
with regard to the line of conduct which should be adopted 
towards Turkey. ... It will doubtless be desirable to 
arrive at some arrangement with regard to Turkey which 
shall be in conformity wdth the good of humanity and the 
precepts of sound policy ; but it cannot at present be fore- 
seen how far this can be done. . . . But if the Porte joined 
France (for one can never be quite sure of the sincerity of 
her professions) — if a war and its results rendered the further 
existence of the Turkish Empire in Europe impossible — the 
two Powers would regulate among themselves the future 
fate of the parties concerned. ..." 

Although the envoy did not succeed in settling all out- 
standing differences with England, a preliminary treaty was 
concluded in April 1805, according to which each Power was 
to make preparations for its share in the task of liberating 
Europe from the yoke of Napoleon. 

When Alexander finally decided to go to war with France, 
it was not from any personal or selfish motive, but merely 
for the sake of punishing Napoleon for his violation of inter- 
national law. He was alone in taking this stand ; in fact, 
Russia was the only Continental Power in a position to 
do so : all the others were by this time in a state of depend- 
ence upon the goodwill of Buonaparte. Before war could be 
declared, however, an alliance with England was imperative. 
Thus Russia was drawn on to the chessboard of Europe, upon 
which the Corsican genius was moving his pawns at pleasure, 
removing castles and even humbling a queen, until he was 
checkmated by the flames of Moscow and by the ice of the 

The Emperor Alexander was destined to take a leading 
part in the shaping of events, but his personal attitude 


towards Napoleon underwent fluctuations which settled down 
finally into a persistent and definite antagonism. Like most 
young men of his day who held liberal views, Alexander had 
been an admirer of the First Consul, though not of France or 
of anything French, the general tendency of the Russian 
Court at that time being to admire all things English. Alex- 
ander's friends and collaborators during the years 1801-1807 
were all imbued with English ideals, and these strongly influ- 
enced the plans of reform now to be introduced into Russia. 

The Emperor's admiration for Napoleon received a rude 
shock when the latter proclaimed himself Emperor ; and 
when in 1805 he was also crowned King of Italy, Alexander 
thought it high time for the representatives of legitimate 
monarchy to unite against the usurper. The negotiations 
with England lasted for some time, as serious difficulties 
had to be overcome, Malta being one of the stumbling- 
blocks ; but finally a compromise was arrived at and an 
alliance with England was formed, in which Sweden, Austria, 
and Naples also joined. 

The war of 1805, however, did not bring about the desired 
limitation of Napoleon's power. The Austrian invasion of 
Bavaria failed, owing to the fact that the Russian troops 
arrived too late on the scene to save their allies. After this 
the Austro-Russian army was completely routed at the battle 
of Austerlitz, 1805. In consequence of this defeat the Emperor 
Alexander became extremely depressed, and even consoling 
messages from the Austrian Emperor failed to dispel his 
gloom. The latter paid a visit to Napoleon in his camp 
and sued for peace on the condition that the troops of his 
Russian ally should be allowed to retire with honour to their 
own country. A month later peace was concluded at Press- 
burg. Thus came to an end this first unsuccessful attempt 
to resist Napoleon's encroachment. 

After the battle of Austerlitz, while the Russian Court 
was still smarting under the humiliation of heavy defeat, 
Czartoryski prepared a memorandum for the Tsar on the 
future policy and possible political combinations. It was 
clear to him that danger was to be apprehended from Prussia's 
attitude. He wrote : "I must repeat to your Majesty that 


it is necessary to guard against too many concessions to the 
Berlin Court. The past has proved that Russia has nothing 
to gain from them, and that by trusting Prussia and blindly 
following her suggestions Russia will run a great risk. Such 
suggestions can be only in Prussia's interests, which are nearly 
always opposed to those of Russia and of Europe ; and by 
yielding here we shall assuredly be led to take steps which 
would deprive us of the respect of the world and of the attach- 
ment and confidence of our true allies. Meanwhile Prussia 
would continue to enlarge her territory and become a Power 
formidable even to Russia herself. ... A war with Prussia 
is an event which circumstances must bring almost certainly 
sooner or later, and we should at once make our preparations 
for waging it with success. ..." 

In spite of the failure of the first coalition Alexander set 
to work to form another. In 1806 he formed an alliance 
with England, Sweden, and Prussia, the latter country taking 
the place of Austria. The King of Prussia was driven into this 
alliance by an outburst of patriotism among his people, who 
resented Napoleon's aggressive policy. The latter, however, 
did not give his enemies time to combine, and before the allies 
were ready he took the offensive. 

Napoleon completely defeated the Prussians at Jena, 
entered Berlin, and thence marched on towards Warsaw, 
where he was joyfully expected by those Poles who were 
reckoning on his promised support for the restoration of 
Polish independence. The Russian army was not prepared ; 
money, too, had to be borrowed from England ; and thus, 
before Alexander could send his troops into action, Warsaw 
had been occupied. Prussia having been crushed, Sweden 
concluded an armistice, and the army of Napoleon wintered 
in the conquered country. In spite of the stubborn resistance 
of the Russian soldiers, which evoked Napoleon's genuine 
admiration, the Russians were obliged to retreat after the 
battle of Eylau, 7th February 1807. 

Napoleon now began to make overtures to Prussia, but 
the King remained faithful to Alexander, declaring that he 
would not go back on his friend ; for the two monarchs had 
met again at Berlin, where, over the grave of Frederick the 


Great, they swore an oath of eternal friendship. During 
the same visit they concluded the Treaty of Potsdam ; to 
this Count Czartoryski most unwillingly put his signature, 
any alliance with Prussia being contrary to his judgment. 

Napoleon's Polish campaign (1806-1807) came to an end 
at the battle of Friedland, where Russia was defeated. Finally 
Alexander sent Prince Lobanov to treat with Napoleon, with 
the result that a meeting between the two monarchs was 
agreed upon. Although Czartoryski was no longer Foreign 
Minister, he took part in the peace negotiations, and was still 
able to influence the Tsar to a certain extent. The British 
ambassador wrote to him with regard to the danger of Alex- 
ander's concluding peace without considering the interests 
of Great Britain. He objected to a separate peace on the 
ground that it was bound to have undesirable results from 
which England might possibly not be the chief sufferer : 
England was willing to make sacrifices in order to bring about 
a permanent, sound, and equitable peace. He wrote that 
" anything that would weaken the bonds between Russia and 
England would be bad for these realms." 

As Alexander had always drawn a distinction between 
the French as a nation and Napoleon as an individual, 
there was no insincerity in his instructing Prince Lobanov 
to convey his heartfelt thanks to Napoleon for his kind 
proposals : to assure him of his (Alexander's) desire for so 
close a union between the two nations as to blot out the 
memory of past disagreements. Alexander further desired 
his emissary to acquaint the Emperor of the French with 
his belief that a permanent alliance between France and 
Russia would ensure happiness and a world-wide peace. 

As a result of these negotiations the Emperors met on 
25th June 1807 on the river Niemen, where the encounter 
took place on a raft in midstream ; then at Tilsit, where 
the famous treaty was concluded which among other things 
deprived Prussia of her Pohsh provinces, which were con- 
verted into the Grand Duchy of Warsaw and given over to 
be ruled by a Saxon prince. At the same time Alexander 
gained an increase of Polish lands. The question of parti- 
tioning Turkey was also raised ; Napoleon, however, refused 


to sanction Constantinople coming under Russia's dominion, 
suggesting as an alternative the annexation of Finland, a 
piece of advice which Alexander followed. ^ At the same 
interview it was arranged that England, then aUied to 
Russia, should be presented with an ultimatum, which it 
was hoped would force King George to make peace with 
France. It was also settled between Alexander and Napoleon 
that Turkey should be granted three months' respite in which 
to arrange terms of peace with Russia. 

This Treaty of Tilsit, and the bond of friendship which 
was now uniting the Emperors of Russia and France, led 
to far-reaching results which were destined to affect the 
whole trend of Russia's development during the next five 
years. Commenting on this change of alliance, which was 
due to the initiative of Alexander, his biographer Shilder 
teUs us that "romanticism gave place to 'Imperial ego- 
tism ' ; it was not the woes of Europe nor the ambition 
of Napoleon, but the interests of Russia alone, which he 
now really had at heart, and which were from henceforth 
to influence his actions." 

This complete reversal of his former policy obliged 
Alexander to reorganise his ministry, and those friends and 
advisers who had so loyally worked with and for him during 
the early years of his reign were all pohtely dismissed. They 
had been Anglophiles, but Alexander now wanted a states- 
man capable of making the most of the new possibihties 
opened up by the alhance with Napoleon. Fortunately for 
Russia, such a man was forthcoming in the person of Spe- 
ranski, who, while in sympathy with Alexander's new 
pohtical creed, was able to assist him whole-heartedly in the 
carrying out of those plans of reform by which the Emperor 
hoped to benefit his people. This able statesman, who 
guided the internal pohcy of the Empire for the next five 
years, gave the people no reason to complain of the change 
of ministers. 

In place of Kotchoubey as Foreign Minister, Alexander 
appointed Roumyanzev, who carefully carried out the two- 
fold policy of gaining time and avoiding war. 

^ See Chapter XXVI., " Finland and her Relations to the Tsars." 


Alexander, however, had not reckoned with popular 
feeling when becoming a party to the Treaty of Tilsit. The 
Russian people gravely objected to this sudden friendship 
with Napoleon, whom they regarded as Antichrist ; the 
army also resented it, as indeed did everyone else. All 
classes, from courtiers to peasants, were in a state of fermenta- 
tion, and instead of being as before the idol of his people 
the Emperor found himself an object of suspicion. His 
eyes were becoming opened to the duphcity of Napoleon, 
and he reahsed that the convention recently signed, which 
confirmed the Treaty of Tilsit, was bound to lead to new 
European comphcations. England would never agree either 
to Napoleon's Spanish schemes or to Russia's annexation 
of Moldavia, Wallachia, and Finland — in fact, war with Great 
Britain was inevitable. The secret arrangements between 
Napoleon and Alexander made the fulfilment of the latter's 
hopes as regards the possession of Constantinople as remote 
as ever ; for he had reckoned on gaining possession of 
Constantinople with Napoleon's aid, but " the key with 
which he had hoped to open the door of his house was once 
again withheld." 

The new Russian Ambassador to France succeeded in 
procuring, by means of bribery, copies of Napoleon's plans 
with regard to Europe. Alexander learnt from them that 
Napoleon considered Russia " the natural enemy of France 
and the natural friend of Austria, and that because of this 
Russia must be deprived of all poHtical influence and rendered 
incapable of interfering with Napoleon's ambitious plans." 
Yet in spite of this information, and in the face of national 
opposition, Alexander persisted in his alhance with France. 
He not only refused Austria's suggestion to enter into an 
alliance with her, but as Napoleon's ally he was obHged to 
attack that country. He caused his troops, however, to 
make only a pretence of warfare. 

During the years 1808 to 1812, Russia, as the ally of 
France, also waged war on England, Sweden, and Turkey ; 
in fact, with the last Power war had been carried on practi- 
cally without cessation, with this difference, that before Tilsit 
it had been waged without opposition on the part of England, 


and later on in spite of it. The Balkan States and the 
Dardanelles both plaj'ed their part in Russia's perpetual 
struggle for supremacy in the Bosphorus. But in 1809 the 
Treaty of the Dardanelles was concluded, which closed the 
Bosphorus to all foreign warships. 

By 1810 relations between France and Russia had become 
decidedly strained. Napoleon's action with regard to Poland, 
which he had virtually converted into a French province, 
with a constitution modelled on French lines and an army 
under the command of French officers, caused many mis- 
givings in the heart of Alexander I. The annexation of 
Holland and Oldenburg, whose ruler was Alexander's brother- 
in-law, called forth an official protest from Russia. Further, 
the Court of St Petersburg was offended at Napoleon's 
marrjdng an Austrian princess instead of contitiuing the 
negotiations he had begun in Erfurt for the hand of the 
Tsar's sister. Napoleon, on the other hand, was irritated 
by Alexander's commercial reforms, which, prohibiting as 
they did the import of certain articles of luxury and putting 
a heavy duty on wine, dealt a severe blow to the export 
trade of France. He was also furious with his ally for refusing 
to act upon his suggestion to seize all neutral ships found 
in Russian waters, with a view to injuring British trade. 
In this matter Alexander followed the advice of Count 
Speranski, then Secretary of State, who was a firm behever 
in the policy of free trade advocated by Adam Smith, and 
who also saw that Napoleon's " continental system " was 
threatening the trade of all countries, especially of Russia. 

Although as yet ostensibly allied, both France and 
Russia began to prepare themselves for the conffict which 
was gradually becoming inevitable. 

The Peace of Bucharest, meanwhile, had been concluded 
in 1812 between Russia and the Porte, the latter having been 
advised by Great Britain to come to terms. Russia agreed 
to restore the principafities of the Danube, but retained 
Bessarabia with the fortress of Chotin and Bender. Alexander 
had also made peace with Sweden, to which country he 
offered Norway, then a Danish possession, in exchange for 
Finland. Finally an aUiance was entered into with England, 


which Sweden joined ; as a counterstroke Napoleon secured 
the support of Austria and Prussia. Contrary to his nature, 
Alexander I. for the next six years consistently carried out 
one idea — that of completely crushing Napoleon : " I or 
Napoleon : we cannot both rule at the same time," was 
now his motto. By this unexpected persistency he com- 
pletely upset the calculations of such a fine connoisseur of 
human nature as Napoleon. Metternich and Hardenberg, 
too, had speculated on the weakness of Alexander's char- 
acter. It was a great surprise to them to find this gentle, 
amiable, and weak monarch capable of such tenacity ; for 
neither defeat nor disaster made him swerve from his purpose 
to deliver Russia and Europe from " this enemy of humanity." 

At last all preparations for the inevitable contest were 
completed. There, on the one hand, stood Napoleon, grimly 
determined to rob Russia of her independence and to chain 
her to his triumphal car ; on the other hand, Alexander, 
filled with the noble ambition to dehver Europe from the 
oppression of the arrogant usurper and to restore to her 
rulers all they had been deprived of. He also made on his 
own account an attempt at the restoration of Poland by 
proposing at the eleventh hour to carry out Czartory ski's 
suggestions with regard to his native country, hoping thereby 
to secure the support of a loyal and united Poland. But 
the Tsar's overtures were made too late — Russia's chance 
had come and gone. 

The actual rupture took place in March 1812, when 
Napoleon joined his army at Dresden and Alexander his 
at Vilna. This was the first move in the great game of 
chess in which the interests of all Europe were involved. 
Russia's mihtary preparations were, however, much less 
perfect than her Emperor had imagined : her four armies 
proved utterly unable to withstand the onslaught of Napoleon's 
troops or to prevent him from crossing the Niemen with his 
forces, which stretched from Tilsit to Grodno. Napoleon had 
not reckoned in vain on the support of the Poles, who hailed 
him as their liberator ; but they soon found to their cost that 
they were merely being used as a cat's-paw in the Imperial 


Now that the French troops were already on Russian 
soil, matters began to look terribly serious ; but in his letter 
informing the Governor of St Petersburg of the invasion 
Alexander writes : "I have the fullest confidence in the 
zeal of my people and the bravery of my soldiers. Menaced 
in their homes, they will defend them with their wonted 
firmness and intrepidity. Providence will bless their just 
cause. The defence of our country, our independence, and 
national honour has forced me to unsheathe the sword. I 
will not return it to the scabbard as long as a single enemy 
remains on Russian territory." 

To gain time Alexander tried to open negotiations, but 
Napoleon refused even to read the Russian proposals, de- 
claring that he would conclude peace only under the walls 
of Moscow ; for he was convinced that Russia was hastening 
to her doom. It was then that Alexander issued the mani- 
festo to his people in which he called to their remembrance 
the Great Dehverance of 1612, when, under the leadership 
of Minin and Pojarski, the}^ had driven the foe out of their 
land. His appeal met with an enthusiastic response ; in 
fact, this definite ending to Alexander's hesitating poUcy was 
hailed with jo}' on every side, for to the Russian people 
Napoleon was the arch-enemy of mankind. A wave of 
loyalty and patriotism swept over the nation — every man 
vied with his neighbour in supplying the necessary men and 

On the advice of his ministers, who had told him that 
his presence at home was urgentty needed, while in reahty 
they dreaded lest he should interfere with the miUtary 
arrangements, Alexander returned to his capital. 

The Russian generalissimos — Barclay de Tolly and Ba- 
gration — did not agree as to tactics : the latter was in favour 
of taking the offensive ; the former of retreating in order 
to draw the enemy on and thus separate him from his base. 
This was a game the local peasantry could thoroughly under- 
stand and enter into ; they wiUingly burned their towns and 
villages and stopped up the wells, taking refuge with their 
cattle in the forest. To the Old Russian party such tactics 
were incomprehensible, and pressure was brought to bear 


upon the Tsar to place Field-marshal Prince Golenistchev- 
Koutousov in command, over the head of Barclay de Tolly, 
who, however, remained on in the army, willingly and cheer- 
fully serving under his successor. 

The new commander in his turn avoided giving battle as 
long as possible, but 
was finally forced to 
do so at Borodino on 
the Moskva, eight hun- 
dred versts from the 
ancient capital — the 
" Heart of Russia." 
This terribly sanguin- 
ary battle was not de- 
cisive : Napoleon lost 
thirty thousand men 
and about fif tygenerals 
killed or wounded. 
But when Koutousov 
realised his appalling 
loss of fifty thousand 
men, besides officers, 
he gave the command 
to retreat towards 
Moscow, in spite of 
the Emperor's orders 
to the contrary, and 

during the night he Double-headed Eagle. 

made a flank move- (Carved centre-piece on the ivory throne presented to 
Ivan III. (1462-1505), Grand Duke of Muscovy, by Byzantium 

ment in the direction on the occasion of his marriage with SophlaPalaelog, heiress 
to the last Emperor of the Eastern-Koman Empire.) 

of Ryazan. 

The Governor-General of Moscow, Count Rostopchin, had 
made preparations for the contingency of Napoleon's entrance 
into the city. All the treasures had been removed ; the 
inhabitants had received notice to evacuate their houses, and 
fire-extinguishing apparatus had been taken away. Before 
he left Moscow, Rostopchin gave orders that all prisoners 
and lunatics should be set at large, preferring that " Mother 
Moscow " should be destroyed by Russian hands rather 



than that it should fall into the hands of the enemy. He 
wrote to this etTect to the Emperor, assuring him that 
" Napoleon will find notliing but the empty shell," which 
he did indeed find to his cost when he entered Moscow on 
the 14th September 1812. 

At this juncture Alexander issued another manifesto to 
the Empire : "... Let there be no pusillanimous depres- 
sion ; let us swear to redouble our courage and perseverance. 
. . . The enemy is in the centre of Russia and not a Russian 
has yielded to Ms power. . . . Meanwhile our forces increase 
and press on him. Shall we then yield when Europe is in 
admiration at our exertions ? ... In the present miserable 
state of the human race, what glory awaits the nation which 
after having patiently endured all the evils of war, shall 
succeed by the force of courage and virtue, not only in re- 
conquering its own rights, but in extending the blessings of 
freedom to other States, including even those who have been 
made the unwilling instruments of attempting its subjuga- 
tion ! " And a little later on, speaking at the ELremUn when the 
fire had done its work, he said : " May Europe, freed from 
the yoke of servitude, speedily come to bless the name of 
Russia ! " 

Various theories exist as to the origin of the terrible 
fire which broke out only a few hours after Napoleon had 
settled in the Kremlin ; but whatever may have been the 
cause of it, the fact remains that all means for extinguishing 
it had been previously removed by order of the Governor- 

The burning of Moscow continued for sixty-five days. But 
this fire, which proved the beacon of liberty for Russia, was the 
signal of disaster for Napoleon ; for those days in the burning 
city saw the beginning of the terrible sufferings of the " Grande 
Armee," which comprised contingents from twenty different 
nations. In answer to the Emperor's stirring appeal to his 
people, " Unite with the cross in your hearts and the sword 
in your hands, and no human power shall prevail against you!" 
the whole country rose in arms : the peasants under the 
leadership of their owners, citizens led by retired officers, 
Cossacks and Kalmucks, joined, and all attacked and harassed 


the enemy on every side. Supplies were cut off and isolated 
units destroyed. Owing to this fierce and irregular war- 
fare, in addition to hunger and cold and the fact that 
winter was approaching, Napoleon found himself in such 
a desperate plight that he was forced at last to appeal 
to Alexander for an armistice. This was curtly refused, 
with the intimation, " For the Russian army the campaign 
has hardly begun." 

It seems as if the utter failure of his plans had deprived 
the great commander of his habitual presence of mind and 
clearness of judgment. He wasted precious time in making 
fruitless plans while the Russian winter was drawing 
nearer and nearer. On 19th October the evacuation of 
Moscow began, the last troops to leave blowing up the 
principal buildings ; only the churches in the Kremlin 
were spared. 

A few days later Count Rostopchin returned to the 
devastated city, which before his orders for evacuation had 
numbered two hundred and forty thousand inhabitants, 
to find only three thousand, and these on the verge of 

The invader retreated from Moscow along the very route 
which his advancing troops had devastated only a month or 
two before. The crossing of the Berezina, when twenty 
thousand of his soldiers were drowned, or killed by the hands 
of franc-tireurs, and attacks made from time to time at any 
advantageous opportunity by the three Russian army corps, 
led to the destruction of Napoleon's army and the ruin of 
his presumptuous ambition. He returned to Paris, leaving 
all that remained of his "Grande Armee " to struggle on 
as best they could, and on 7th January 1813, only eight 
months after Napoleon had crossed the Niemen to invade 
Russia, that river was recrossed by the pitiable remnant of 
his defeated hosts. Russia was liberated ! and in memory 
of this great deliverance, the Emperor had a medal struck, 
inscribed with the words : " Not unto us, not unto us, 
but unto Thy name. . ." (be glory). 

After this sudden and unexpected end to Napoleon's 
invasion, and after having seen the last of his enemy's forces 


cross the Russian frontier, Alexander would have been justified 
in sheathing his sword. It was the opinion of the majority 
of the Emperor's advisers that he had done his share of the 
work, and that Western Europe should now disentangle 
herself from the net into which she had been drawn. These 
men considered Russia's interests only, while a small minority 
advised Alexander to persist in his aim of first crushing 
Napoleon and then reorganising Europe in concert with his 

Chief among the men who urged him to continue with 
the war was the Freiherr von Stein, who hoped to deliver 
Prussia with the help of Alexander. It was, to some 
extent, the result of his influence that, instead of remain- 
ing satisfied with the deliverance merely of his own 
realm, Alexander decided to carry on the campaign. This 
decision had momentous and far-reaching consequences for 
the rest of Europe. 

Alexander crossed the Niemen at the head of his 
troops, and while his soldiers were driving the French out 
of Poland he was making an offensive alliance with Prussia 
for the purpose of driving Napoleon out of Europe. 
He promised not to lay down his arms until Prussia had 
been restored to the status she had enjoyed before 1806. 
Austria stUl held back from accepting the invitation to 
join this alliance against Napoleon, as Metternich feared 
that she would run the risk of being crushed later by the 
Russian Colossus. 

At Breslau, where Alexander and Friedrich Wilhelm met, 
the allies issued a proclamation to all the European princes 
urging them to join with them in making war against " the 
enemy of humanity." 

Napoleon meanwhile had been raising a new army, and 
when Prussia declared war on France (17th March 1813) he 
entered Germany and won several victories, but acceded to the 
request for an armistice by the allies, who were fairly non- 
plussed by the turn of events. During this truce the aUies 
received reinforcements and supplies. Bernadotte, Napoleon's 
former general, now King of Sweden, joined the alliance ; 
England gave shelter to the Russian fleet, and, besides promis- 


ing a sum of money, accepted the responsibility for a part 
of a loan floated in Russia. The whole aspect of affairs had 
changed in these six weeks, and, although the allies had 
refused to listen to Napoleon's proposals with regard to a 
compromise, they were genuinely anxious for peace and offered 
him very moderate conditions at the Congress of Prague, 
where Austria acted as mediator. Eventually, however, 
the Congress ended in failure, and Napoleon's insulting 
attitude towards Austria made war inevitable. At the end 
of the armistice, which had been prolonged by a few weeks 
in view of peace negotiations, hostilities broke out afresh — 
this time with Austria as Russia's new ally. A Russian 
contingent was attached to each of the allied armies, whose 
arms were crowned with success, and the defeat of Napoleon 
at the battle of Leipzig nearly brought the career of the 
Great Usurper to an end. 

Eleven days after this battle Napoleon recrossed the 
Rhine, upon which the South German principalities and 
Denmark joined forces with his enemies. The allied monarchs 
entered Frankfurt, where they held a congress to decide upon 
future developments. Alexander and Metternich differed 
greatly in their views as to dealing with Napoleon. Metter- 
nich was in favour of clemency, while Alexander^ — whom 
Metternich looked upon as a semi-Jacobin and an unpractical 
dreamer — thought it wiser to settle matters once for all. 
As the Emperor's opinion carried most weight, the march 
to Paris was decided upon. 

While the invasion of France was proceeding, the allies 
were attacking Napoleon's troops at various other points ; 
in fact, the pressure brought to bear upon the French from 
every side led to the capitulation of Paris on 30th March 1814. 
Alexander promised safety to the city, and was received with 
great rejoicing and enthusiasm. To restrain the spirit of 
revenge in the hearts of the Russians, who longed to retaliate 
for the burning of Moscow, Alexander sent a message to his 
troops, in which he said, among other things : " Our enemies, 
by piercing to the heart of our dominions, wrought us much 
evil ; but dreadful was the retribution : the divine wrath 
crushed them. Let us not take an example from them ; 


inhumanity and ferocity cannot be pleasing in the eyes of a 
merciful God. Warriors ! I trust by your moderation in 
the enemy's country you will conquer no less by generosity 
than by arms ; and by uniting the valour of the soldier 
against the armed with the charity of the Christian toward 
the unarmed you will crown your exploits by keeping 
stainless your well-earned reputation of a brave and moral 

The Emperor succeeded in preserving strict discipline 
in his army, thus saving the terrified French peasants 
from outrage and plunder. All the time he was there 
the people kept holiday, and his word, " Not Paris, only 
Buonaparte is my enemy — the French are my friends," flew 
from lip to lip. France forsook her Emperor and declared 
herself willing to accept the legitimate King in his place. 
So Louis XVIII. was restored to his throne by the allies 
without opposition ; wliile Count Shouvalov accompanied 
Napoleon to Elba. 

Having arranged matters so far, Alexander left Paris for 
England, and a few weeks later he returned to Russia, where 
he was hailed with enthusiasm. The Senate offered him the 
title of " The Blessed," which he modestly refused. 

A few months after his return he entrusted his Empire 
once more to the care of his former tutor. Count Saltykov, 
while he went to Vienna in order to participate in the Congress 
called for the purpose of definitely settling the affairs of 
Europe. It was a brilliant gathering, in which all that the 
world had to offer of allurement, pomp, and glory was dis- 
played. Ostensibly it was Alexander who took the lead in 
all the deliberations, but the wirepullers were Metternich 
and Talleyrand. Among other readjustments of territory, 
that of Poland was divided for the fourth time. Alexander 
wished to unite aU the parts of the kingdom of Poland into 
an autonomous State. England and Austria opposed these 
plans. Thus his generous intentions for the Poles came to 
naught ; but the chief objections to the Emperor's proposals 
were made, not by Austria and Prussia, who would have had 
to surrender their Polish possessions, but by Lord Castlereagh, 
who feared so great an increase to Russia's power and influence. 

Peter the Great in his Costume as a Skipper in place cf the flowing 
Tatar Robes worn up to the tinne of his reforms. 


He insisted on the maintenance of the status quo ; for he knew 
that Russia would never agree to an absolutely independent 
Poland, a state of things which he would have considered 

During this Congress relations between Alexander and 
Metternich had become so strained that on December 14th 
all intercourse was broken off between them, the latter mak- 
ing an alliance with Castlereagh to prevent any further in- 
crease of territory on the part of Russia and Prussia, which 
countries consequently had to be satisfied with half of what 
they had demanded. The news of Napoleon's escape 
from Elba brought about temporary reconciliation, and the 
alliance against " Buonaparte," as opposed to France, was 

Napoleon's reign of one hundred days came to an end with 
his defeat at Waterloo. The Russian troops did not take 
part in this battle, as they entered France only after the 
abdication of the Emperor. A second Treaty of Paris was 
drawn up in November 1815. Alexander and the Duke of 
Wellington did their best to safeguard the city against the 
vandalism of Bliicher, who wanted to blow up the Pont 
d'lena ; but they were unable to prevent the looting of the 
Museums, which were stored with treasure taken by Napoleon 
from the various German towns. 

It was during his second visit to Paris that Alexander 
astonished the world by propounding a scheme for a unique 
alliance which had been in his mind ever since the battle 
of Leipzig. This " Holy Alliance," he hoped, would usher in 
an era of peace. 

After the fire of Moscow and the subsequent deliverance 
of Russia, Alexander had become a distinctly religious man ; 
according to his own confession, he had consecrated him- 
self to the furtherance of the glory of God. He persuaded 
his allies to join with him in carrying out the ideal of basing 
political relations on the teaching of the Gospel, which was 
to be the only line of conduct in international as well as 
domestic policy. 

Such principles had not been enunciated by any ruler 
since 847, when the sons of Louis le Debonnaire had taken 


an interest in the welfare of their " common kmgdom," 
and had publicly urged the necessity " to live in peace and 
harmony as demanded by the laws of fraternity and the will 
of God." 

Love and goodwill, justice and righteousness, were to 
reign among nations and rulers, who were all to be counted 
members of one Christian family. The three signatories to 
this remarkable document, who were absolutely sincere in 
their intentions, promised to look upon themselves solely as 
instruments of Divine Providence. All Powers willing to 
accept the principles laid down in this document were wel- 
comed into the " Holy Alliance " with " the greatest hearti- 
ness and brotherly love." 

The Papal States and England refused to sign. Lord 
Castlereagh, on behalf of the latter country, replied that 
the English Parliament was composed of practical men who 
were willing to vote subsidies and join alliances for offensive 
or defensive purposes, but that they would not sign a declara- 
tion containing merely scriptural principles, which would be 
nothing less than a reversion to the times of the saints of 

The world, however, was not yet ready for this kind of 
millennial rule, and it was not very long before Alexander him- 
self flagrantly contradicted by his actions that to which he 
and his friends had solemnly subscribed ; indeed, under 
the influence of Metternich this alliance degenerated into a 
league of kings against nations. 

Before the monarchs separated they agreed among them- 
selves to meet periodically to discuss any plans they had 
been formulating in the meanwhile for the furtherance of 
their peoples' welfare and for the maintenance of the peace 
of Europe. 

After the Congress of Vienna a new chapter opened for 
Russian Poland. It was constituted by Alexander an auto- 
nomous hereditary kingdom in perpetual union with Russia ; 
he restored to it the famous constitution of 1791, to which 
Catherine had so strongly objected. Alexander assumed the 
title of King of Poland, and appointed his brother, the Grand 
Duke Constantine, commander-in-chief of the Polish army, 



which was to consist of fifty thousand men. It was a great 
disappointment to Prince Czartoryski that he was only made 
Senator instead of being appointed Viceroy, as he had hoped. 
The man to whom this post was given lent himself later on 
to the enforcement of certain measures which violated the 
constitution, thus preparing the ground for another Polish 
rising. In the meanwhile, however, Poland enjoyed a few 

Russia after the Congress of Vienna. 

years of peace and rest under the constitution so generously 
granted by Alexander. 

It seems as if the inherent weakness of the Emperor's 
character reasserted itself as soon as his aims with regard to 
Napoleon had been achieved. Shilder calls this "period of 
congresses " which follows, and which lasts from 1816 until 
1825, a " period of reaction." In fact, Alexander's foreign 
policy was more or less confined to congresses, where de- 
liberations were held on international or domestic problems 
common to all States at that time. At the gatherings at 


Aix-la-Chapelle in 1818, at Troppaii in 1820, at Laibach 
in 1821, and at Verona in 1822 the monarchs tried to regulate 
affairs in Europe on the principles laid down by the Holy 
Alliance. They believed that they were acting as guardians 
of the welfare of the peoples of Europe ; but, as a matter of 
fact, it soon became apparent that it was their own welfare 
that they were guarding, and the outcome of these royal 
assemblies was merely the establishment of their several 
monarchies on a firmer footing, and the suppression of every 
liberal movement. The Holy Alliance ended in discord in 
the year 1821. 

Alexander had during the course of years altered his 
views as to the blessings of a limited monarchy, and had 
arrived at the point of considering it his duty to "preserve 
autocracy and to hand it on, in an unlimited form, to his 
successors." These retrograde principles were strengthened 
in Alexander by the influence of Metternich, who was always 
scenting out revolution. Being persuaded by the latter that 
the rising of the Greeks of 1821 was merely a revolt against 
their legitimate sovereign the Sultan, Alexander refused to 
accede to his nation's demand for active and energetic in- 
terference on behalf of their brethren and co-religionists. 
He thus failed to justify the hopes which the Slav peoples 
had placed in him as the traditional protector of all Balkan 
Christians against the attacks of Islam. It was purely fear 
of lending aid to a revolutionary movement which restrained 
the Emperor at this juncture ; Greeks were massacred, 
Patriarchs hanged, and the treaty of Bucharest violated. 
Yet Alexander sacrificed the cherished privilege of so many 
reigns to his new political creed. 

In this crisis he found himself isolated, for his opinion was 
shared by nobody ; the Old Russian party, to whose wishes 
and prejudices he had sacrificed so many of his plans for 
reform, were now against him. The Emperor failed to realise 
the intensity of national feeling, while the people could make 
nothing of his sudden volte face — a Russian Tsar championing 
the Sultan of Turkey was beyond all comprehension ! 

The terrible flood of St Petersburg in 1824 and the un- 
expected death of Alexander in the following year were con- 


sidered by the devout Russians as a divine punishment on 
their Emperor for his failure to come to the rescue of his 
oppressed co-religionists. 

When Metternich heard of Alexander's death he summar- 
ised the foreign policy of his reign in the following words : 
" Ou je me trompe fort, ou bien I'histoire de Russie va com- 
mencer la oil vient de finir le roman." 

Medal struck by Alexander I. 


THE Deliverance of Russia from 
THE Hosts of Napoleon. 



" The shouts of joy and the hurrahs of the crowd are still 
ringing in my ears ! " wrote the new Empress of Russia, for 
the news of the Emperor Paul's death was the signal for such 
an outbreak of uncontrolled rejoicing that a wave of hysterical 
hilarity seems to have swept over the land. Friends fell on 
each other's neck ; strangers shook each other warmly by 
the hand ; the spirit of holiday-making was in the air, and 
the very atmosphere seemed to be impregnated with joy and 
gladness. The nightmare which had been oppressing the 
nation suddenly vanished away. Many a bowed head was 
raised by the new-born assurance of personal safety and hope 
for the welfare of the nation, " Our wounds are healing, 
we can breathe again, no longer need we be afraid to think 
and speak of what is just and right. Let us bless the present 
time, and may it last as long as we do ! " So wrote Zava- 
dovski in his memoirs. 

The nation rejoiced and with glowing hearts the people 
welcomed their new ruler. But what about his feelings ? 
Perhaps they are best expressed in the words of his wife : 
" He is absolutely crushed," she writes, " by the death 
of his father and by the manner of it. His sensitive soul 
will for ever be lacerated by this terrible memory ; his care 
for his people's welfare, the thought of what must be done for 
them, will be his only support ; nothing but this can give him 
the strength he is so greatly in need of — for in what a condi- 
tion has he received his Empire ! " 

Thus the new Emperor began his reign with the blessing 
of his people ; but that which brought such joy to them was 



a source of untold grief to him, for all through life the terrible 
crime to which he owed his accession to power cast its shadow 
over his soul. 

At the age of twenty-four Alexander I. entered upon 
his arduous duties as ruler of the great Russian Empire. The 
principal reason for his being welcomed so heartily by the 
nation was that he was known to hold liberal and humani- 
tarian views. So great were the hopes centred on this young 
man that the news of his accession was looked upon by many 
as a " message of salvation." All those cultured Russians 
who had been living abroad in voluntary exile now returned 
in the fuU assurance of a hearty welcome. 

Much has since been written about this Emperor whose 
personality was predestined to have so deep an influence on 
his era. The great vacillation which his policy manifested, 
both at home and abroad, his political alliances as well as his 
wars, were all dictated by the different spiritual currents 
which swayed him from time to time, and the sudden transi- 
tions and vacillations between two opposite views were but 
the reflex of the Emperor's moods and emotions. As he was 
of such a pliable nature, it was fortunate for Russia that the 
influences of his childhood and youth were directed towards 
the development of high and good ideals. 

Shilder, a conscientious student of his personality and 
actions, and his most exhaustive biographer, divides the reign 
of Alexander I. into three distinct periods : the first, from 1801 
to 1810, usually called the "Epoch of Regeneration," he pre- 
fers to describe as the period of "vacillation," which is as 
apparent in his home as in his foreign policy. This may be 
due to his natural timidity having been accentuated by the 
difficulty of his position between his grandmother and his 
father. In his endeavour to please and satisfy both he may 
have learned to waver and compromise and ultimately to do 
what was most politic. 

Catherine II., who had loved this grandson with an absorb- 
ing love, had entrusted his education to men cultured in the 
highest sense, and amongst them it was the Swiss Laharpe 
who was destined to exercise a deep-rooted and far-reaching 
influence. This tutor instilled into the open and responsive 


soul of his Imperial pupil conceptions of humanity and liberty 
as well as his own belief in republicanism. Until his eighteenth 
year Laharpe was able to influence Alexander, who had by 
that time become strongly imbued with high and noble 
ideals. This intercourse was temporarily broken off, for the 
Empress made a clean sweep of all who favoured republican 

It was just about this time that the Grand Duke met Prince 
Adam Czartoryski, a Polish hostage for whom Catherine had 
conceived a great liking. The two young men soon became 
friends, as they shared the same noble aspirations. To the 
Polish prince it was a joyful surprise to find Alexander so 
liberal-minded ; in fact, Czartoryski found it necessary to 
convince the Grand Duke that some of his ideas with regard 
to the future government of his nation were too radical. One 
of the things to which Alexander was opposed was hereditary 
rule ; he considered it imperative that for a position of such 
responsibility the most suitable man should be elected. 

In his memoirs Prince Czartoryski gives a delightful 
description of Alexander in his young days : " He loved 
gardens and fields and the rustic beauty of village maids, 
and he rejoiced in the labours and occupations of country 
life with its simplicity and retirement." His friend also 
describes him as having charm of manner, sincerity, and 
simplicity, which won him friends wherever he went. In 
later years, when the Emperor's good faith was doubted, 
Prince Czartoryski always maintained that Alexander I. 
had been absolutely genuine when in his youth he had pro- 
fessed his intention of bestowing a constitution upon his 
people as soon as he should become Emperor. 

The actions of the young ruler during the first days after 
his accession to the throne were an earnest to the nation that 
a new era had begun. He proclaimed an amnesty, recalled 
political exiles, and restored to office those who had been 
deprived of their positions. Thus in the first few days of 
his reign twelve thousand families were made happy. Besides 
this, all the printing works which had been closed down since 
1800 were again opened, and all prohibitions of the import 
of books were rescinded. Every class of society had some 


reason for rejoicing : nobility and burgess had those privi- 
leges restored of which his father had deprived them, and the 
peasants were again permitted to gather wood in the for- 
ests belonging to the Crown. Priests were granted immunity 
from corporal punishment ; the pUlories, on which the names 
of those disgraced by the Emperor Paul had been inscribed, 
were removed ; and the " Secret Expedition," a kind of in- 
quisition or secret police, which had been an instrument of 
terror in the hands of Paul, was abolished. The prohibition 
to travel abroad was withdrawn ; to all Russian subjects 
was granted full liberty to wear whatever they liked in the 
way of hats and cloaks ; and the soldiers were delivered 
from the hated wigs and queues. 

Only when one considers how capricious the reign of 
Paul I. had been, and how the liberty of the subject had been 
reduced to a mere name, can these measures of relief be fully 
appreciated. The evil days of Paul were buried in oblivion : 
injustice, violence, were done away with, and all that was 
good and right was to have free scope. 

One of the first problems the Tsar had to deal with was, 
what should be done with regard to the men to whom he owed 
his crown. During the first few weeks of his reign the three 
leading spirits of the conspiracy — Count Pahlen, General 
Benningsen, and Count Zoubov, the "Triumvirate" as they 
were generally called — wielded a certain amount of power. 
Alexander found himself in an awkward predicament, for 
he could hardly punish everybody who had taken part in 
so widespread a conspiracy, more especially as he himself 
had indirectly participated in it. 

The fact that Alexander I. did not at once severely punish 
the instigators and the actual murderers of his father led 
many to believe that he was an accessory to the crime ; but 
this has been proved a calumny. One by one the Tsar 
removed the members of the Triumvirate from St Petersburg ; 
they were forced to live in retirement on their estates, and 
many of the officers concerned in the conspiracy were trans- 
ferred to Caucasian or Siberian regiments. Alexander's 
position with regard to these men was far from easy, and 
their presence must often have been painful to him. A 


French contemporary, describing an official ceremony at 
whii'li Aloxiinder I. was present, writes : " In front of the 
young Emperor walked his grandfather's murderers, behind 
him those of his father, and around him those who might 
one day be his own." 

Alexander called home those of his friends who were 
abroad at the time of his accession. He formed a Committee 
of Reform consisting of his friends Count Strogonov, Nicolai 
de Novossiltzev, and Count Kotchoube}^ ; Prince Czartoryski 
acting the sympathetic onlooker, as, being a Pole, he felt him- 
self an outsider. This committee, which was mockingly called 
the " Secret Council," met in the evening in the Emperor's 
private apartments to discuss the great schemes of reform 
planned by Alexander. The different training and gifts of 
these friends of the Emperor fitted them for the task of 
assisting him in working out his plans for benefiting his people. 
It was Count Strogonov who drew up the proposals for reform 
which were to bring justice and liberty to Russia. 

Alexander's ideal at that time was to rule as a limited 
monarch, and, in reply to a lady who asked him a favour 
with which he could not comply without acting unjustly, he 
wrote : " Although I can put myself above the law, I will not, 
because I do not recognise as legitimate any power which 
does not emanate from the law . . . there must be only one 
law." The medal coined in memory of his coronation is 
symbohcal of his ideals and tendencies : on the one side is 
represented his hkeness, on the other a pillar bearing the 
simple inscription, " The Law." On the pillar rests the 
Imperial crown, and over it are these significant words : 
" The law is a blessing to each and all." 

At his coronation the MetropoHtan of Moscow addressed 
solemn words of warning and advice to the Emperor. Among 
other things he urged him always to uphold truth and right- 
eousness, and never to let himself be turned from these by 
flattery or wickedness, which he should make it his aim 
to keep away from his Court. He reminded the Tsar that he 
would need exceptional wisdom with which to rule his vast 
Empire so as to make the best possible use of the great oppor- 
tunities God had placed in his hands. 


The unofficial Committee of Reform set to work and 
evolved various schemes, of which some at least became law. 
In order to form a nucleus for a future constitutional body, 
the young Emperor endeavoured to infuse new life into the 
Senate which had been created by Peter the Great. The 
duty of this assembly had been dual — to promulgate laws 
and to see to their execution. The Emperor, however, was 
free to issue a ukase even when the majority of the Senators 
had voted against it. 

Theoretically the Senate was to wield unhmited power, 
but Alexander did not always practise what he preached, and 
eighty-three times out of two hundred and forty-two he pro- 
mulgated his edicts in spite of the opposition of the majority. 
It sometimes happened in the earlier days of his reign that 
the Senate, taking him at his word, ventured to persist in an 
independent course, but soon found that such proceedings 
only irritated the Tsar. Eventually his friends came to the 
conclusion that the Emperor would gladly let everyone do 
what they liked so long as they Uked to do what he wished. 

As the administrative machinery of the Empire was 
cumbersome and intricate, Alexander decided to simpUfj^^ it by 
means of centralisation and unification. In order to effect 
this he created eight ministries, each of which was to be 
presided over by a minister in co-operation with an assistant 
or colleague. This system of two men holding an office 
jointly did not run smoothly, and was probably introduced 
with the sole idea that each of the two would keep an eye on 
his co-worker. Alexander appointed his intimate friends, the 
members of the unofficial Council, as ministers and assistant 
ministers. Strangely enough, he appointed Derjavin, the 
poet-laureate of his grandmother's reign, Minister of Justice. 

The Ministry of " National Enhghtenment," or Education, 
more than justified its creation. Alexander appointed as 
minister the educational adviser of Catherine I., Count 
Zavadovski, and as his colleague the Emperor's former 
tutor, Professor Mouraviev. Every attempt at promoting 
education met with the most whole-hearted and practical 
support from the Tsar, and in every branch of scholastic life 
real progress began to manifest itself. 



111 order to stimulate the translating of such works as 
those of Adam Smith and others, Alexander spent in one year 
alone one hundred and sixty thousand roubles saved out of 
his personal expenses. Indeed, throughout his reign extrav- 
agance was never encouraged bj^ his Court, for he always 
expressed the view that money, as far as possible, should be 
put to productive uses. 

The Emperor's example in encouraging education by 
means of grants was followed by many of the great princes 
and rich merchants, by provincial and municipal associations, 
by the higher clergy, and even by Tatar chiefs. Thus large 
sums were spent on prizes for Uterary effort and in the 
establishment of museums, etc. 

In spite of all that had been done b}' Catherine the Great, 
Russia badly needed more schools and of a different class, the 
educational conditions being still most unsatisfactory. 

Three universities, in St Petersburg, Kazan, and Kharkov, 
were added to the three existing ones. In opening the 
University of Dorpat, Alexander I. only redeemed the promise 
made by Peter the Great at the time when the Baltic provinces 
were joined to Russia. ^ The University of Kazan was to 
spread its influence eastward ; that of Kharkov southward ; 
and so on. Each of these seven universities, under the 
direction of a curator, was to form the nucleus of a scholastic 
district. In this way centres of light and culture were created, 
whose rays should penetrate the dense darkness of ignorance. 
Prince Czartoryski, whom Alexander appointed curator of 
the old-established University of Vilna, made excellent use 
of this opportunity of furthering education in his beloved 
native country, the welfare of which lay always near to his 

During the reign of Alexander two thousand elementary 
schools and two hundred and four gymnasia or high schools 
for boj's were estabhshed in different parts of the Empire ; 
thus Russia was fairly launched on a career of culture and 

Even the reforms of Catherine had not provided a solution 
of the Russian educational problem, for lack of cohesion 
^ See Chapter XXIV., " The Baltic Provinces." 


was proving a hindrance to the system of higher education. 
Also it seemed impossible to bring into line the various aims 
set before the different kinds of schools. But the most crying 
need of all was for students and teachers : the universities 
were languishing for want of students and the schools for want 
of teachers ; some radical change, it was clear, must be made 
to remedy this defect. 

As Russia had not been able hitherto to produce native 
professors, foreigners — mostly Germans — had to be called in 
to supply their place. Latin was to have been used as a 
medium for teaching, but the students' ignorance of this 
classical language made the plan useless, and the lectures 
frequently had to be retranslated into German or French. 
An unsuccessful attempt was made to train Russian professors 
at the three older universities, and finally a modus vivendi 
was found by sending to German universities twelve of the 
most promising students, who on the completion of their 
course of study became professors. This experiment proved 
so successful that, after a time, the Government found it 
possible to dispense with the services of foreigners. 

All these numerous attempts at regulating the educational 
system of the Empire led to a systematic differentiation of 
the various schools : the curriculum of the gymnasia was 
enriched by instruction in Latin and Greek, and thus they 
became known as " classical schools " intended for the pre- 
paration of boys for a university career. 

Great hindrance to the working out of these reforms was 
found in the attitude of the parents of the commercial classes. 
Many of these petitioned against the teaching of any other 
subjects than reading and writing, as they considered all 
other knowledge superfluous. The nobihty, on the other 
hand, preferred to send their children either to military 
establishments or to private schools. In order to induce 
them to send their sons to the gymnasia the Government 
made it compulsory that no language but French should be 
spoken in these institutions, while drawing and fencing were 
also made part of the curriculum. 

The other great problem yet to be solved was that of the 
serfs — a problem which the Emperor frequently talked over 


with his friends ; but even amongst them, progressive though 
thov wore, o})inions di tiered as to whether a gradual or a 
sudden change of status was preferable. In any case, it was 
only a question of granting personal liberty — the idea of 
giWng the freed serfs land as well was never even thought of 
until a generation later. 

To prevent the separation of families the Emperor pro- 
mulgated a ukase in 1804 which prohibited the sale of indi- 
vidual serfs. They could only change masters when the 
land changed hands. He also abolished the owner's right 
to arrange marriages between his serfs, thus granting the 
latter liberty of choice in their life's partner. He also passed 
certain laws restricting the judiciary power of the masters, 
and limited the punishment by flogging to fifteen strokes. 
Serfs were also delivered from the sole jurisdiction of the 
masters, and it was decided that one million roubles should 
be set aside annually for the redemption and liberation of 

These minor reforms of the Emperor were disappointing 
to those who had expected a radical change ; but he feared 
the storm of opposition that such measures would raise among 
the owners. His intentions were excellent, but it was in 
practical execution of plans that he was wont to fail. 

Prince Czartoryski, whose love and loyalty were above 
suspicion, was forced sadly to admit that the Emperor lacked 
both the will-power and sufficient moral courage to pass such 
an unpopular measure. In apology for his royal friend he 
wrote : " The Emperor did not consider himself sufficiently 
master of the situation to risk introducing such drastic 
reforms." But there was no certainty that even the small 
measures of relief passed in 1804 would be put into practice, 
for by whom were they to be enforced ? There was no 
organisation to see to the faithful application of the law, and 
under the very walls of the Emperor's palace human beings 
were continually being sold like cattle. 

The conscience of Russian society, however, was beginning 
to awaken, and the liberty and toleration enjoyed during the 
earlier years of Catherine's reign were now bringing forth 


In the year 1807 several alterations were made in the 
entourage of the Emperor, whose foreign policy had undergone 
a complete change. After the Peace of Tilsit, the old friends 
and collaborators, whose sympathies had been Enghsh, were 
set aside, and someone had to be found to take their place 
who would be in full sympathy with Napoleon's French ideas. 
Such a man was Speranski, later on Secretary of State, one 
of the finest representatives of his nation. 

The son of a poor priest, he had been through the seminary 
and had then become Professor of Mathematics at the Eccle- 
siastical Academy of St Petersburg. He did not, however, 
enter the Church, as was customary for the son of a priest, 
but accepted the post of private secretary to one of the 
ministers of the previous reign and then stayed on under his 
successor. The Emperor Alexander became acquainted with 
him when, on one occasion, Speranski had to make a report 
in place of the Minister for the Interior, Count Kotchoubey, 
whom sickness had prevented from personally attending to 
business. The Emperor was greatly struck with the per- 
sonaHty of this remarkable man, and a friendship soon sprang 
up between them. 

The confidence Alexander placed in Speranski resulted in 
rich blessings to Russia. Alexander had found one whose 
character and nature were in many respects the complement 
of his own, who was just the fellow-labourer he urgently 
needed. Speranski synthesised the Emperor's vague, fluctuat- 
ing ideas of reform and brought his concentrated energy 
to bear in bringing them to fruition ; he had a fine, supple 
mind, and was a prodigious and methodical worker. Thus 
the Emperor, with his impulsive and unmethodical ways, 
found a corrective in his indefatigable minister, whose clear- 
sightedness, power of concentration, and executive ability 
brought order and stability to the well-meant but fluctuating 
and sometimes chaotic ideas of the generous Tsar, 

During the next few years, which form the second 
phase of Alexander's reign, and which Shilder describes as 
a period of experimenting, Speranski did his utmost to 
prepare the ground for those organic reforms which were 
especially calculated to bring greater cohesion and uniformity 


into tlu> irmenuntMit of tlu' vast Empire. Speranski ailiuired 
the administrative organisations of the Emperor of the 
French. His legishitive reforms were, to a great extent, 
based on the Napoleonic Code, wliieh had been carefully 
studied by a legislative commission of whicli Speranski was 
a member. Adapted to Russian needs and in a Russian 
form, these laws, imbued ^vith the French spirit, were now 
to be applied to Russia. 

In his suggestions for legal reform, which were fully ap- 
proved of by the Emperor, Speranski carried out the ideas 
enunciated by Catherine II. in her famous " Instructions." 
He even went a step further, laying down the maxim that 
" no Government is legitimate unless it is founded on the 
>nll of the nation." But in tliis he was only developijig 
Alexander's own ideas as to the necessity of limiting the 
absolute power of the Sovereign. 

As a first step towards the introduction of political liberty 
it was imperative to liberate the serfs in order to prepare 
the mind of the nation for this far-reaching change, Speranski 
authorised the publication of a pamphlet entitled " The 
Agreement between Proprietors and Peasants." According 
to the ideal of Speranski, the people were no longer to be the 
slaves of their owners, nor were the owners to be the slaves 
of the sovereign. In fact, until the existing unhealthy con- 
ditions should be changed, no real progress was possible in 
any branch of national life. 

The Enghsh form of government, with its powerful aristo- 
cracy, made a strong appeal to Speranski, who aimed at 
introducing the same system into Russia. As a preliminary 
lie proposed to limit the membersliip of the nobihty by con- 
ferring it only on those who had reached the four highest 
ffrades or " Tchins " of the bureaucratic hierarchv. Onlv 
those were to enjoy the special privileges of nobility ; the 
rest, however, were to be free to call themselves noble as 
heretofore, but would merely form an upper middle-class. 
out of which they might rise to the status of the privileged 
aristocracy by doing the State good service. 

Speranski's carefully worked-out plan for the reorganisation 
of the whole administrative sj-stem of the Empire was divided 

Costume of Boyara In the 17th Century. 



into three distinct departments, each subdivided into grades. 
First, the Legislative, beginning with the communal village 
council and ending with a national Duma, with the Imperial 
Council as the final Court of Appeal : for the present the 
Imperial Council was to be the central body, and above it the 
Emperor. Secondly, the Judiciary, beginning with a village 
tribunal and ending with the Senate as the supreme tribunal. 
And, thirdly, the Administrative, beginning with the village 
starostas and ending with the eight ministerial departments, 
whose chiefs were to form the Council of Ministers responsible 
to the Tsar himself. Thus by means of centrahsation he 
hoped to ensure cohesion and co-ordination, but in deference 
to the Emperor's timidity Speranski suggested a gradual 
introduction of this vital reorganisation. 

The creation of the Imperial Council, which actually took 
place in 1811, should have led to the establishment of a limited 
monarchy ; that it did not do so is due to the character of 
the Emperor, of whom his friend Speranski regretfully re- 
marked : " He does everything by halves : too weak to 
rule, he is yet too strong to be ruled ! " 

The Senate also had to undergo reconstruction in order 
to render it more efficient. Speranski suggested an increase 
to the Senate, till then appointed by nomination, by adding 
several elected members, besides all the ministers and their 
colleagues. In view of the vast expanse of the Empire, 
Speranski suggested the subdivision of the Senate into four 
sections, only one of which was to sit in the capital, the others 
in various other centres. 

These last proposals met with violent opposition in the 
Imperial Council. Some members objected to the elective 
principle as incompatible with autocracy ; others considered 
it dangerous to change so venerable an institution as the 
Senate, which had served its purpose so well for the last 
hundred years. In spite of opposition, however, the reform 
was passed, but the outbreak of the great war against Napoleon 
prevented it from being carried into execution. 

Speranski's code of laws was not passed — his adversaries 
considered it derogatory to the Russian nation to adopt 
anything so foreign — but his scheme of financial reform was 


accepted. It included the calling in of a great part of the 
paper money, the starting of a sinking fund, the establishment 
of an Imperial Bank, and publication of the Budget. He 
suggested new taxation, and, as a believer in free trade, 
proposed the abolition of duty on raw material ; but in 
order to foster home industries he imposed heavy duties on 
imported luxuries. 

The position of the Secretary of State was a very diflficult 
one, as his reforms clashed with the interests of so many people. 
In 1811 he tendered his resignation, which, however, Alexander 
refused to accept ; but gradually his opponents succeeded 
in undermining his position, and, as the Emperor's views had 
for the second time during his reign undergone a change, it 
was perhaps natural that the minister who had carried out 
the wishes of Alexander during the phase which was now 
drawing to a close should no longer be wanted. 

A false rumour reached the Emperor's ear that Speranski 
was favouring Freemasonic principles, and that his reforms 
would undermine autocracy, which Alexander had come to 
consider must be preserved intact. The Emperor's personal 
vanity also asserted itself, for some of the frank criticisms 
of his friend had been reported to him. The final rupture 
took place suddenly. Alexander wept at the last interview 
with his faithful friend, whom, notwithstanding, he dismissed 
without a word of warning, and banished to a distant eastern 

Speranski preserved in adversity the greatness of soul 
that he had shown in prosperity, indeed, he fully justified 
the epitaph placed on his tomb : "In adversis sperat." 

That Speranski had been able to get through such an 
immense amount of work during his five years' term of office 
is due to his all-round efficiency, combined with a marvellous 
gift of concentration. Although he laboured so incessantly, 
often for eighteen hours at a stretch, he never began his 
day's work without a quiet time of spiritual refreshment. 
It was during these hours that he translated Thomas a Kempis' 
Imitation of Christ into Russian. He had all the gifts of 
leadership, yet was faithful in little things. In spite of his 
versatility and the multiplicity of his duties, he never lost 


his perfect equanimity. Neither success nor failure could 
unbalance his mind : quietly and steadily he pursued his way. 

He did much for Russia, and his merit has been of late 
years generously admitted ; but he was in advance of his 
time, and tried in vain " to introduce the future into the 

In 1816 he had, however, the satisfaction of being publicly 
cleared of all the unworthy charges which had been brought 
against him, and a ukase in which he was completely ex- 
onerated from all blame was issued by the Emperor himself, 
who said of his old friend and adviser : " Everyone now 
knows as well as I do all that Russia owes to him ; and the 
tongues that spake against him have long been put to silence." 
He was appointed Governor of Siberia, where he introduced 
several important improvements in the conditions of life 
there, and succeeded in winning the love of the people. In 
the next reign he was destined to carry out many of the plans 
which now for the time being failed. 

During the early days of the nineteenth century a wave 
of spiritual hunger and divine discontent had been sweeping 
over the country, and all the people, high and low, from 
Emperor to peasant, were in search of some means with 
which to satisfy this newly awakened craving and found it 
in different ways, according to locality, opportunity, and 
level of culture. 

The attitude of Alexander I. towards religion has been 
condemned or approved by various critics, according to the 
individual point of view held by each : some writers have 
made him out to be a consummate hypocrite, others a perfect 
saint. The truth lies between these two extremes. At one 
time Alexander " cared for none of these things," but then 
came to him a time of spiritual awakening and of seeking 
after the things of God, and what the Emperor said and wrote 
during this period came straight from his heart and was the 
result of genuine conviction. The Emperor of Russia had 
nothing to gain in favouring " Mysticism," or " Pietism " 
as it has been called, or in acting the part of a religious man. 
The fact is that Alexander's soul was dissatisfied, his con- 
science never at rest, and his mind always full of ideals. To 


quote his biographer, Shilder : " Alexander could never be 
satisfied with a formal religion." 

The one who was first to open to liim the " comfort of 
the Scriptures" was his friend Prince Alexander Golitzin, 
of whom the historian writes, " From a Saul he was turned 
into a Paul," and who became a supporter and protector of 
that spiritual and evangelical movement which was begin- 
ning to make itself felt. 

The fearful and wonderful deliverance from the enemy, 
the fire of Moscow, and the destruction of Napoleon's great 
army opened the Emperor's eyes to the fact that " salvation 
and glory are from God, alike for nations as for Kings." To 
quote Alexander's own words : " Through the fire of Moscow 
my soul has been enlightened, and God's judgments on the 
ice-fields have filled my heart with a warm glow of faith such 
as I have never before experienced ; for it was then that I 
learned to know God as He is revealed in the Holy Scriptures, 
and as soon as I understood and knew His will and His law 
I resolved to consecrate myself and my Government to Him 
for the furtherance of His glory. From that time on I became 
a different man." 

There was no pretence about his religious fervour, and 
before the battle of Leipzig he and the King of Prussia knelt 
down before God in prayer. 

What his principles were at this time can be judged from 
his proclamation to the army on their entering French soil 
en route for Paris in 1814. He desired that his soldiers, too, 
should follow in the steps of Christ as he was trying to do. 
He appealed to his soldiers to refrain from retaliation and 
barbarity in the enemy's country : " Let us forget what our 
enemies have done to us ; instead of animosity and revenge, 
let us approach them with words of kindness, with the out- 
stretched hand of reconciliation. Such is the lesson taught 
by our Holy faith. ..." 

The State Church, with its formalism, was unable to 
satisfy this newly awakened spiritual hunger of the nation ; 
and in Russia, as in all other countries, this condition of 
affairs led to the rise of numerous sects — sects representing 
all kinds and shades of doctrine, which were either developing 


out of those which already existed, or were forming on 
entirely new lines. 

There were thus distinct streams upon which those souls 
who craved for a more living and simple faith were carried 
along. Schismatics, or the Old Believers, had long since 
subdivided into various offshoots ; for, later on, Catherine's 
toleration had enabled them to exist without let or hindrance, 
and in many places an unofficial compromise had been arrived 
at with the local clergy. 

At this period, however, a new kind of sectarian move- 
ment developed — the so-called " Evangelical," of which the 
chief representatives were the Molokanes in the south of 
Russia. The adherents of these sects read the Bible, believed 
in justification by faith, and witnessed by their upright and 
moral life to the genuineness of their faith and the soberness 
of their doctrine. While other sects were characterised by 
the extravagance of their doctrine and practice, the Doukho- 
bortzi, or " Spirit- wrestlers," were akin to the Society of 
Friends, members of which came all the way from England 
to inquire into their teaching. 

In the drawing-rooms of the capital every new prophet 
or prophetess, every ecstatic visionary was discussed, then 
visited, and in the end generally found a good following. 
So did also the Roman priest, Johannes Gossner, whose 
sermons were listened to with rapt attention, but whose 
Evangelical faith soon forced him to leave the Church of 
Rome and also Russia. Others, again, sought to find in 
French and German philosophy that for which their souls 
craved. But, whatever form this seeking after truth might 
take, all craved for some practical outlet for their newborn 
faith and humanitarian principles. 

This was quite a new phase in the social life of Russia : 
philanthropy became the fashion, and indeed there was 
enough scope for it, and the societies which were formed found 
plenty of material upon which to work. 

The honour of having opened the Emperor's eyes to the 
terrible condition of the prisons is, however, due to an English- 
man, Venning by name. This philanthropist had had the 
privilege of meeting the Emperor in the house of his brother, 


a cultured English merchant and an earnest Christian, whom 
Alexander occasionally visited in order to spend a few hours 
in friendly intercourse. On one such occasion Mr Venning 
asked the Emperor's permission to visit the prisons in Russia, 
as he took a special interest in them. The request was 
readily granted by the liberal-minded, generous Tsar, but on 
condition that Venning should make a personal report of all he 
had seen. This unique opportunity was used with excellent 
results, and resulted in the formation of the Society for the 
Welfare of Prisoners in St Petersburg, under the presidency 
of Prince Alexander Golitzin. 

A few years later on, an auxiliary branch was started in 
Moscow, the centre of the prison and exile system for the 
whole Empire. In this town it was a German, Doctor Haas, 
who, on becoming a naturalised Russian, had entered the 
service of the State. He loved the Russian people with a 
whole-hearted devotion, and worked with untiring zeal for 
the benefit of the prisoners and for the thousands of unfor- 
tunate men and women who passed through Moscow on their 
Via Dolorosa towards Siberia — sent there by their owners or 
by order of the tribunals. 

At this period both Moscow and St Petersburg were 
favoured in having Metropolitans who were in sympathy with 
spiritual revival, and they welcomed the suggestion of the 
British and Foreign Bible Society that a branch should be 
started in Russia. John Paterson, the agent of the London 
Society, had already been able to organise work in Finland, 
and had received a grant of £500 towards Bible distribution 
from the Tsar, who was " inspired with the desire to assist 
in promoting the circulation of Holy Scriptures." 

Mr Paterson arrived at an awkward moment in Moscow — 
just when the Governor, Count Rostopchin, had issued orders 
for the evacuation of the city on the approach of Napoleon. 
The Englishman had to leave almost immediately for St 
Petersburg, where he presented his credentials to Prince Alex- 
ander Golitzin, at that time Procurator of the Holy Synod, 
who gave him a hearty welcome and the promise that his pro- 
posals with regard to the British and Foreign Bible Society 
should be laid before the Emperor at the earliest opportunity. 


Alexander manifested such genuine interest in this matter 
that, although on the point of setting off to join his forces 
in their pursuit of the retreating French armies , he actually 
postponed his departure in order to study Mr Paterson's 
proposals. The very day on which Russia was absolutely 
delivered from her foe, and Napoleon crossed the Niemen, 
the Emperor sanctioned the free entrance of the Bible into 
his Empire and the establishment of a branch of the British 
and Foreign Bible Society. "So be it — Alexander," he 
wrote on the document laid before him by his minister. 

A few weeks later an Imperial ukase legalised the beneficent 
organisation which was to supply, in co-operation with the 
Holy Synod, the Russian nation with the hitherto practically 
inaccessible " Word of God." The inaugural meeting was 
held in the house of Prince Golitzin, and was attended by the 
highest ecclesiastics of the State Church, as well as by a 
Roman Catholic Bishop, by Cabinet Ministers, nobles, etc. 
During the first year a fund of sixty thousand roubles was 
raised on behalf of the Society, and of this sum twenty-five 
thousand roubles were given by the Emperor himself, who 
also promised an annual subscription of ten thousand roubles. 

A Russian Bible Society was also founded in Moscow with 
the object of providing gospels for all the Slavonic peoples. 
The demand for these by the troops was so great that in 
1816 one hundred thousand copies could easily have been 
distributed had they been ready to hand. Prince Golitzin, 
as President of this Society, wrote to Lord Teignmouth, the 
President of the British and Foreign Bible Society : " Entire 
Governments, whole dioceses, raise their voices to our Com- 
mittee and entreat us to satisfy the hunger of millions of our 
countrymen — a hunger which the distribution of the lively 
oracles of the living God has excited. . . . All support our 
Society . . . clergy . . . even peasants give us of their 
poverty. ..." 

In 1815 the Emperor met Baroness Kruedner, the person 
who for some time at least was to exercise over him a great 
spiritual influence which has been adversely criticised by many 
of his biographers. 

To this lady Alexander granted an interview at 


Heilbronn, on his way to Paris, after the Congress of 
Vienna. He was going through a time of great spiritual 
and moral stress. He had heard from a friend of the 
Baroness's zeal for the kingdom of God. He describes their 
first meeting in a letter to a friend in the following words : 
" As soon as I heard she was asking to be admitted, I received 
her at once : the words she addressed to me were fully in 
accord with my spiritual condition, for, although full of re- 
proof, they also comforted me and cut through the tangled 
web in which I had been held so long." 

It was to the man, the sinner before God, that this lady 
spoke, oblivious of the fact that before the world he was the 
Emperor of Russia, She told him that he had not yet con- 
fessed himself a sinner, and that until he did so he would 
never find peace for his soul. This conversation lasted for 
three hours, and marked the beginning of a new phase in 
the Emperor's life and reign. On his suggestion Baroness 
Kruedner followed him to Heidelberg, and later on also to 
Paris. The entourage of the Emperor quickly perceived a 
change in him. There was a marked contrast to his ordinary 
behaviour — he withdrew as much as possible from the gaiety 
around him, and instead found all his pleasure in the study 
of the Bible and in attending Bible readings held by a devout 
Swiss pastor. 

It has been suggested that the idea of the Holy AUiance 
was entirely due to Baroness Kruedner ; but that was not 
the case. Alexander showed her the draft only after it was 
already drawn up, but it is true that she strongly supported 
his ideas. 

The Great DeHverance of 1812 brought with it also an 
awakening of the national and poHtical consciousness. During 
this campaign many Russian officers came into actual contact 
with Western civihsation, which hitherto had been accessible 
only to those who had travelled abroad. They fraternised 
with the German students, whose ideals and aspirations had 
sprung from a revival of national feeUng, which had led to 
the formation of the " Tugendbund " or " League of Virtue " ; 
in this and kindred associations patriotism and the desire for 
poUtical freedom were blended. In Paris the Russians held 


intercourse with men who still believed in liberty, equality, 
and fraternity. 

During their prolonged stay in foreign countries the 
young Russian officers learned to think and reason and to 
appreciate a more serious mode of Hfe than they had been 
accustomed to at home. When these young men returned to 
their native country they realised the difference between it 
and the countries they had just left, and decided to work 
together for a national regeneration, in full assurance of the 
Emperor's sympathy. Several societies were founded, one of 
which, " The Union of the Faithful Sons of the Fatherland," 
later on became that of " Pubhc Welfare " ; but it died out 
in 1822, owing to the lack of a definite political programme. 
They were also able to base their poHtical aspirations on the 
views which had been expressed by the Emperor, who, although 
he changed in many respects during the twenty-four years 
of his reign, was three times on the verge of granting a con- 
stitution to Russia, and had actually given this privilege to 
Finland in 1809 and to Poland in 1818. 

In 1801-2 this idea of Alexander formed the topic of many 
discussions between himself and his intimate friends ; in 
1809 he even wrote about his plan to George Washington, 
from whom he received a copy of the American Constitution. 
Speranski, at that time the Emperor's collaborator, worked 
out for him a fuU plan of political reform : this able minister 
foresaw the consequences of delay in granting the constitu- 
tion — he read the signs of the times, and hoped to prevent 
bloodshed in the future. In his draft of the constitu- 
tion he writes : "At every epoch the form of government 
must correspond with the degree of civic enhghtenment to 
which the State has attained. Whenever the form of govern- 
ment is too slow, or too fast, to keep pace with this degree of 
enhghtenment, it is overthrown with more or less commotion : 
thus time is the origin of every renovation in politics. No 
Government which does not harmonise with the spirit of the 
times can ever stand against its powerful action. How many 
calamities, how much blood, could be spared if the rulers of 
nations would observe with accuracy the movements of 
pubhc opinion, if they would conform to the principles of 


their system of policy and adapt the government to the 
state of the people, instead of adapting the people to the 
government ! " 

Speranski's proposal, however, was not accepted ; for the 
Emperor's personal convictions with regard to constitutional 
rule were not strong enough to allow of his forcing through a 
measure which the partisans of autocracy opposed. Still, in 
1815, on his visit to London, the Emperor discussed this 
matter with certain EngUsh pohticians ; and even as late as 
the year 1819 he once more considered the subject. 

Even after this idea was beginning to fade from his mind, 
he said to a faithful friend, who had to report to him on a 
mutiny of the Semeonovski regiment : " You have been in 
my service since the beginning of my reign, and you know 
that I have shared and encouraged these illusions and errors. 
Therefore it is not for me to be severe to them ! " Yet he 
became severe, for at this moment reaction was setting in — 
the fall of Speranski had heralded the third and last phase 
of Alexander's reign. His place as chief poUtical adviser 
was taken by Count Armfeld, while the post of general adviser, 
vacated by the disgraced minister, was only too soon filled hy 
the bigoted and sinister Araktcheyev, who had already been 
the bad adviser, though faithful servant, of the Emperor Paul, 
and who during the first years of Alexander's reign had had no 
influence, although he had been appointed Minister of War. 

The next period is stamped with the personality of this 
man, under whose influence reaction became the order of the 
day, and which was nourished by the Emperor's principles — 
worked out by him in the Hoh^ Alliance — so well meant, yet 
destined to enchain the nations. It was only when the 
Emperor had come to a state of disillusionment — of " an 
incurable degout de la vie," as he called it — that Count Arak- 
tcheyev became Alexander's evil genius. He intrigued against 
the frank and generous Count Speranski and later on against 
Prince Golitzin ; finally, he succeeded in isolating the Emperor 
from those of his collaborators of the preceding period who, 
in sympathy with his noble aspirations, had worked only for 
the welfare of the people. 

It was always a puzzle to the Emperor's entourage, and 



even to his biographers, wherein lay the key to Araktcheyev's 
influence. It may have been in the fact that he never criticised 
the actions of Alexander, who always craved approval ; but 
it may also have had something to do with his lack of 
initiative, for Araktcheyev was merely a mlling tool, with 
only one ambition, and that to make himself indispensable. 
Extremely bigoted and severe to the point of brutahty, he 
served his Imperial master 
with whole-hearted devo- 
tion, and as time went on 
he became so powerful 
and so above attacks by 
opponents as to be justified 
in the proud assertion re- 
ported to have been made 
by him : " I am the Em- 
peror's friend ; therefore, 
any complaints about me 
can be made only to God." 

It is characteristic of 
Alexander's state of mind 
at this time that Arak- 
tcheyev's sinister person- 
ality was able to dominate 
him as completely as had, 
a few years previously, 
the luminous personahty 
of Count Speranski, of 
whom Araktcheyev re 
marked : " Had I only half his brains, I should be by this 
time a truly great man." These two names are typical of 
the two aspects of Alexander's reign, namely, progress and 
reaction ; for although there was often no sequence in his 
actions, there was always a distmct Hnk between them and 
the character of his advisers. Speranski appealed to the 
higher side of his nature, Araktcheyev to the lower ; the 
former to the ideahst, the latter to that element of cruelty 
so often found in the sentimentalist. 

Metternich came to the conclusion that the Emperor's 


Metropolitan of Moscow. 

(From Herberstein's Rerurn Moscoviticarum 
Commentarii, 1549.) 


mind underwent a distinct change every five years, which 
he called a " periodical evolution of mind." This unique 
phenomenon is clearly traceable in his actions both with 
regard to home and foreign pohtics, and may perhaps be the 
cause of the alternation between periods of spiritual awaken- 
ing and periods of darkness. It was as if the Emperor forgot 
all he had been most eager about in the previous phase, the 
new idea having apparently taken such a hold of him as to 
become an obsession. This may help us to understand the 
otherwise perplexing duaUty of his character. 

Alexander, who hitherto had been a leader — in fact, the 
Agamemnon — among the monarchs, became the unwitting 
tool of that masterly diplomatist, Metternich. 

This clever, purposeful statesman, to whom the very 
thought of revolution was like a red rag to a bull, knew how 
to utilise for his own ends the disillusionment following on 
the failure of the Emperor's cherished ideals, which had 
centred in the Holy Alliance. Alexander's motive in starting 
this alliance had been " love to God and man " ; but he was 
bitterly disappointed at not achieving the desired results, 
and he was in this state of mind when Metternich got hold 
of him. " I have the Emperor safely at anchor," he writes ; 
and explains why Alexander had lost the position of leader 
in the following words : " He has lost his advisers ; he 
distrusts his army, his ministers, his nobihty, and his people. 
In such a state of mind one cannot lead." Metternich 
worked on this new tendency to suspicion, at the same time 
plajing up to the Emperor's ideaUstic ambitions, making him 
believe that in crushing every movement towards freedom 
he was " hindering the rule of evil." 

Thus the Tsar, from being a supporter of progressive 
and liberal principles, became an upholder of reaction and 
obscurantism. Yet it was still idealism which caused him to 
change, though now it was guided into wrong channels. His 
advisers during this new phase were as different from his 
former ones as they could possibly be. It seems as if Alex- 
ander lost his power of judgment, and Araktcheyev's and 
Magnitzki's bigotry were mistaken for true rehgion. Even 
Prince Gohtzin, an honest and genuine Christian, had been 


taken in by the professions of religion of the once notorious 
freethinker, Magnitzki. 

In his capacity of Minister of Education, GoHtzin suggested 
this man to the Emperor as Curator of the University of 
Kazan ; but he was only nursing an adder in his bosom. 
Magnitzki's real or pretended zeal was to become the spade 
by means of which all the new plants of intellectual life were 
to be dug out of Russian soil. During his term of office he 
dismissed eleven professors, forbade others to mention Buflon ; 
Copernicus, Galileo, and Newton being also placed on the 
forbidden Hst. His craze was to " bring education into 
conformity with the principles of the Holy AlUance " ; but 
this he did to such an extent as to render the very name of 
reHgion ridiculous. The professor of political economy was 
commanded to teach his subject after the manner of St 
Paul ; lectures on mineralogy had to be intersected by prayers 
and chanting. 

GoUtzin's faU was soon brought about by Araktcheyev 
and Magnitzki. Unfortunately for Russia, their obscurantism 
found favour with Gohtzin's successor, and the Ministry of 
" Public EnHghtenment " was in danger of rapidly becoming 
one of " national darkness." The new head was Admiral 
Shishkov, who was an enemy of all reforms and considered 
elementary education not only useless but even harmful. 

The University of KJiarkov was deprived of two and that 
of St Petersburg of four professors, who were dismissed 
simply for teaching the subjects which they had been 
appointed to instruct. New restrictions were added year by 
year, and in 1822 the University of Dorpat was forbidden 
to accept anyone as a student who had been abroad ; by 

1823 it had become illegal to go abroad for study, and in 

1824 a knowledge of poHtical economy was considered super- 
fluous. These measures were especially unfortunate, as it 
had cost so much thought and labour to create and keep 
alive the universities. It was Shishkov also who introduced 
that ruthless censorship by means of which he did his utmost 
to dim the Hght of Russia's newly awakened intellectual life. 

Since the days of Catherine a new generation had been 
growing up which, especially during the first part of Alex- 


ander's reign, had had free scope for development. The first 
quarter of the nineteenth century is rich in men of fine char- 
acter and strong personaUty, who, each in his own sphere, 
tried to five up to the ideals which he had set before him ; 
and art, literature, and science spread their wings for an 
upward flight. 

If during the reign of Peter the Great the Russians began 
to learn what work meant, and if Catherine encouraged 
them to intellectual effort, it was left to Alexander I., in his 
turn, to give an impetus to the emotional and spiritual side 
of their nature. 

The same humanitarian and philanthropic tendencies and 
political aspirations which, at this very period, in England 
blossomed forth in the EvangeHcal revival, the abolition of 
the slave trade, and the opening up of an era of philanthropic 
and poHtical activity, in Russia were doomed to be nipped in 
the bud by the frost of reaction. Araktcheyev and his 
confreres did not favour the Tsar's attitude of toleration with 
regard to a freer rehgion, nor did they like the Russian Bible 
Society ; they agitated against it so successfully that Prince 
Gofitzin was ousted from his position of President of the 
Russian Bible Society, to be replaced by a nominee of their 
own, under whom that Society's activity came to all but a 
total standstill. Just as, during Golitzin's term of office, his 
co-workers had been the best and most enhghtened members 
of the Russian hierarchy, so now the opponents of progress 
and spiritual enlightenment completely got the upper hand. 

This " factotum principal de I'Empereur," as Araktcheyev 
was aptly called by a foreign diplomatist, soon became the 
most powerful, but also the most hated, man in the Empire. 
His name is especially linked with the system of " mihtary 
colonies," which were generally supposed to have originated 
with him, though the Emperor laid claim to the authorship 
of this idea ; at any rate, the manner in which the scheme was 
worked out by Araktcheyev justifies the hatred it aroused 
against him. 

Alexander's idea had been to enable soldiers in time of 
peace to enjoy family life, and also to provide them with 
agricultural labour, and, incidentally, to reheve the mifitary 


budget. Regiments were to be given land in certain parts of 
the country ; the soldiers were told to marry the daughters 
of the neighbouring peasants, and the sons born to them were 
to become soldiers in their turn. Thus the soldier was to be 
an agriculturalist and the agriculturalist a soldier. In theory 
this scheme appeared benevolent and beneficent : in the 
working out it became a curse. The peasantry resented this 
quartering of soldiers on them and objected to such compul- 
sory marriage of their daughters, and especially to the loss 
of liberty which the strict miUtary discipline entailed. This 
chafed them past endurance. 

Araktcheyev, a regular martinet, laid down rules for 
every detail of life : everybody had to wear uniform — even 
the children ; men were forced to have their beards cut off, 
etc., etc. In this craze for regulating everything he even 
drew up rules for the mothers of the future soldiers. He 
prepared thirty-six rules which these women were to hang 
up beside their ikon, and which they had to obey with the 
utmost exactitude. He commanded them to attend a 
weekly meeting in the church, where the village priest had 
to instruct them in their duty towards their children — a kind 
of " mothers' meeting," perhaps the first on record, in Russia 
at least. 

Drilling and forced labour, such as the felling and carting 
of timber — for Araktcheyev had a mania for building, — took 
up so much of the time of the hapless members of these 
military colonies that agriculture was neglected and the 
people were frequently reduced to starvation. 

The fearful severity with which Araktcheyev 's rules were 
enforced led to frequent disturbances and riots, and at last 
a memorandum " on the protection of the people against 
Araktcheyev " was sent up to the Tsar. However, in spite of 
this protest, this system of military colonies was still carried 
on in various parts of the Empire, and by 1825 one-third 
of the army had been thus settled on the land. 

The model colony which was on Araktcheyev's own estate 
was ruled with a rod of iron by his mistress, who had been 
the wife of a sailor. She exasperated her serfs to such an 
extent that they mutinied, and the imperious Anastasia was 


killed by the infuriated people. The Emperor, ministers, 
and courtiers wrote letters of condolence to the bereaved 
Araktcheyev, who was so utterly distraught with grief that 
for a time he lost all interest in State affairs. 

Although conditions changed later on, the first quarter 
of the nineteenth century was, nevertheless, one of tremendous 
progress ; for what such men as Count Speranski and Count 
Roumyanzev (the Maecenas of that period) did for education, 
literature, and art could never be entirely undone, however 
great might be the power of reaction. A new life had begun 
and new chords had been struck in the soul of the nation. 
Periodicals and journals, as well as political works and novels, 
were produced. For the first time Russian literature became 
truly national. Ryleyev wrote on things which had happened 
in days gone by, and Karamsin produced The History of the 
Russian State, in which some of the great historical treasures 
of the nation were revealed for the first time ; it was indeed 
a revelation which strengthened the national consciousness. 

Perhaps the most popular writer of this period was Gribo- 
yedov, who in a satirical comedy, Gore ot Ouma — " The Sorrows 
of too much Learning," — represented contemporary life. 
His heroes were living characters whose counterparts in real 
life were well known to everybody. Griboyedov's types 
became as famous in Russia as did those of Dickens in 
England, and their remarks became epigrams. This comedy, 
in which the evils of every class of society were exposed 
with inimitable wit, was not permitted to be either printed 
or performed, yet everyone read it, copies being made by 
hand. Later on, however, the author gave it into the hands 
of the censor, who expurgated it of all that had made it 
living and true, and in this form it was published and put on 
the stage. 

In spite of this spirit of reaction which prevailed during 
the latter part of the Emperor's reign, and in spite of censor- 
ship and of galling restrictions which crippled the output of 
Russian literature, the intellectual life of the nation could 
not be quenched. The men of Russia had begun to think for 
themselves and to acquire knowledge and culture : it could 
not be expected that these men, who had stepped out in the 


dawn and were longing for the full light of day, should fall 
back without a struggle into the night of ignorance from 
which they had just emerged. 

The stirring of this new life resulted in the creation of social 
unions and literary societies : the idea, however, was not a 
new one, for several such had been formed during Catherine's 
reign, and, although towards the end of it Freemasonry 
had been forbidden, the Emperor Paul in his reversionary 
policy had revoked the prohibition ; nor was Alexander 
averse to it. It was especially after the return of the 
army from France that so many of these unions sprang up : 
many officers — of the Guards, for instance — belonged to some 
literary society. These gatherings, however, often ended 
in political discussions : it frequently happened that unions 
started on an mtellectual or humanitarian basis, gradually 
developed into political organisations, and this as the logical 
outcome of the repressive measures which banned humani- 
tarian efforts. Such were " The Sons of Russian Knights " 
and " The Union of the Faithful Society of the Fatherland." 
The latter underwent many changes and ultimately became 
" The Union of Public Welfare." During this phase its 
members carried on their activities under four heads : some 
had to keep a watch on all philanthropic undertakings ; 
others furthered the moral and spiritual education of children, 
by example as well as by precept ; a third party occupied 
themselves with the study and superintendence of the judi- 
ciary system ; while a fourth busied themselves with political 
economy : economic prosperity, industry, commerce, etc., 
were to be encouraged in every way, and the Government 
monopoly of drink was to be fought against. 

All these regulations were contained in what they called 
" The Green Book." The members of this society and its 
branches were all cultured men, mostly officers. The best 
men, possessing the highest ideals, belonged to these unions. 
Genius, talent, birth were richly represented among them. 
At first they had felt sure of the Emperor's sympathy, as 
his liberal views were well known to all ; but when, under 
the influence of Metternich, his views changed, these idealists 
and the Emperor parted ways : he standing on the side of 


retrogression, they on tliat of progress — he the champion 
of autocracy, they longing for a constitutional Government. 

It was owing to this state of affairs that, out of the unions 
already mentioned, evolved " The Union of the North," which 
aimed at introducing a constitutional monarchy, and that 
" The Union of the South," which favoured republicanism, 
and whose able leader was Colonel Pestel, had come to the 
conclusion that " those countries which had not a revolution 
continue to be deprived of many rights and much liberty : 
therefore, Russia required the cleansing and regenerating 
influence of a revolution in order to bring about government 
by means of a constitution, which alone would guarantee 
safety and stability." 

" The Society of the Re-united Slav People " aimed at 
a federation of all the Slavonic nations. It was the first 
time that Panslavism, formulated as a creed, entered the 
arena of politics. This society was in close touch with 
patriotic Polish societies. Thus the military classes were 
honeycombed with political circles. A few individual 
members even went so far as to advocate violence against 
the person of the Tsar, but this was never encouraged. 

Finally a conspiracy was organised, and Prince Troubetzkoi 
was nominated provisional dictator. There was not much 
secrecy about the methods of these conspirators, who freely 
discussed the situation of the country and expressed their 
conviction as to the need of urgent reform. 

The news of this threatening danger first reached Alexan- 
der through an Englishman, Sherwood, a non-commissioned 
officer whose father was foreman in a Moscow factory. He 
had accidentally found out the existence of a plot, and con- 
sidered it his duty to inform the Emperor in person of what 
he knew ; but at the same time he made use of this unique 
opportunity to tell him of the general suffering and discontent 
caused by the system of Araktcheyev, and of the many evils 
in need of redress. 

Alexander received the same warning later on from other 
sources, but in spite of this he took no steps with regard to 
it, although the knowledge of the existence of such a con- 
spiracy distressed and embittered him. 


It is an interesting phenomenon that the members of 
this first organised attempt at revolution were all members 
of the privileged class. Count Rostopchin, commenting on 
this, said : " Usually it is bootmakers who stir up a revolu- 
tion in order to become grand seigneurs, but in Russia it is 
the grand seigneurs who desire to become bootmakers." 
The fact was that noblemen had been made democratic by 
the regime of absolutism. Before, however, this conspiracy 
came to fruition, the Emperor died. The delicate health of 
the Empress made it imperative for her to spend the winter 
in the south, and Taganrog was the place chosen, where 
Alexander was to join her after his tour through the Crimea. 
On the eve of his departure his friend Golitzin pleaded with 
the Emperor to make some arrangement with regard to the 
succession in case of any eventuality, for up to that time 
nothing had been definitely settled : but the Emperor only 
looked pensive for a moment or two, and then replied : " Let 
us trust in God ; He knows everything infinitely better than 
we frail mortals." 

Whether Alexander had ever any thought of carrying out 
his frequently expressed intention of abdicating and retiring 
into the quiet of private life will never be known ; but if 
this were so, he evidently anticipated having sufficient time 
in the meanwhile to introduce the various reforms about 
which he spoke to his friends. Karamsin remarked to him, 
apropos of the future : " There is yet much for you to do 
so that the end of your reign may be worthy of its beautiful 

But the unexpected happened. Soon after joining his 
wife the Emperor succumbed to a malignant fever, although 
attended to the last with the utmost love and care by his 
physicians, amongst whom was his faithful friend Sir James 

Thus died, in his forty-eighth year, a monarch who had 
begun his reign under the shadow of a crime, and whose ad- 
vent to the throne had been hailed with such joy by the 
nation ; but their hope in him liad been doomed to disap- 
pointment. Yet Alexander was so full of good intentions 
that it was only his vacillating nature which had stood between 


him and their fulfilment. Always, when he ought to have 
persisted, he drew back as though afraid of the logical con- 
sequences of the reforms which he had himself proposed. Even 
his ardent admirers must admit that in this otherwise delight- 
ful personality the elements of strength and stability were 
lacking, with the result that a life so full of promise ended in 
suspicion, disappointment, and gloom. 



Alexander had died without leaving either a personal or 
a political will. When the news of his death reached St 
Petersburg, the Grand Duke Nicholas immediately gave 
orders for the oath of allegiance to be taken to his elder 
brother, the Grand Duke Constantine, then at his residence 
in Warsaw. General Miloradovitch and Prince Golitzin, who 
knew that other arrangements had been made privUy for 
the succession, pleaded for a delay ; but Nicholas declared 
that anyone who would not do what he wished and at once 
take the oath of allegiance to his brother Constantine would 
be considered by him as an enemy of himself and of the 
Fatherland. Consequently everyone felt himself compelled 
to obey and to follow the example of Nicholas, who himself 
at once swore fealty to his brother. 

The news of Alexander's death had arrived at Warsaw 
two days earlier than at St Petersburg, whereupon the 
Grand Duke Constantine announced to his entourage that, 
in consequence of a secret arrangement between himself 
and his Imperial brother, he had renounced his claim to the 
throne some years previously, and therefore that now Nicholas 
and not he was Emperor. He refused to be addressed as 
" Your Majesty," and himself took the oath of allegiance to 
his younger brother. When, therefore, the messenger arrived 
with a letter from Nicholas addressed to the "Emperor" 
Constantine, the latter refused to open it on the ground that 
it was not he, but Nicholas, who was the rightful bearer of 
this title. 



Rumours of the abdication of Consta'ntine were meanwhile 
spreading in the capital, and a state of oppressive uncertainty 
was making itself generally felt. How could such a situation 
have possibly arisen ? Was there no one who knew definitely 
what Alexander had arranged with regard to the succession ? 

The members of the Imperial Council were aware of the 
fact that, in the year 1823, the Emperor had deposited in 
its archives a sealed document on which he had written : 
"To be kept until I ask for it ; but in case of my death to 
be opened first thing before any action is taken." One copy 
of this sealed document had also been entrusted to the Holy 
Synod, and another had been deposited in the Uspenski 
Cathedral of Moscow. 

It is difficult to say why Alexander had not made public 
the abdication of Constantine in favour of his brother, who 
had preferred the love of a good and charming Polish lady, 
whom he had married morganatically, to the crown of Russia. 
In 1823 the Emperor had accepted his abdication and it was 
then that Alexander wrote the above-mentioned document, 
the contents of which were only known to three others — 
Miloradovitch, Golitzin, and the Metropolitan of Moscow. 

Although Alexander had once mentioned to his brother 
Nicholas in a general conversation the possibility of his 
succeeding him, he was expressing the desirability of his own 
withdrawal into private life, as it might be good for the nation 
if the great task of ruling the Empire were shifted on to 
younger and more capable shoulders. The Grand Duke 
Nicholas had, however, never been told of the actual state 
of affairs in regard to his brother Constantine. 

It should have been the duty of the Senate to hand the 
sealed document at once to Nicholas, who, on his part, should 
have accepted the word of his brother's advisers when informed 
by them of the existence of a document concerning the 

In consequence of all this confusion, there was an inter- 
regnum of three weeks during which time the two Imperial 
brothers exchanged many letters, both persisting in the 
position they had taken up ; until, finally, on 13th December, 
Nicholas gave in, and the troops which, three weeks earlier. 



had sworn allegiance to the Emperor Constantine, were told 
to take a fresh oath to Nicholas on the following day. 

It was this state of uncertainty, and also the knowledge 
that they had been betrayed, which decided the leaders of 
the military conspiracy to bring matters to a crisis and to 
make use of the taking of the second oath in order to bring 
about the fulfilment of their 
plans for the introduction of 
a constitutional Government . 

Prince Troubetzkoi had 
been appointed leader ; the 
soldiers of certain Guards 
regiments had been prepared 
to take part in the revolu- 
tion ; the outbreak was to 
be signalled by the refusal of 
officers and men to swear the 
oath of allegiance to Nicholas, 
on the plea that Constantine 
was their lawful Emperor. 

On 14th December, the 
day appointed for the solemn 
ceremony, the mutiny broke 
out as arranged, and when 
the Emperor came out to 
reason with the disaffected 
troops which had assembled 
in the Senate Square two to 
three thousand men stood 
out against him. 

The Emperor, when informed of the Guards' refusal to 
acknowledge him as sovereign, personally addressed certain 
troops to try and influence them by alternate means of kind- 
ness and severity. He endeavoured to disperse the crowd so that 
his troops might have space and freedom of movement ; but 
the soldiers only responded by calling out his brother's name. 

If there had been any organised and concerted action 
under good leadership, the conspirators might possibly have 
been successful, for society in general was on their side. 

Tsar, holding in his Hand the Four 
Sceptres representing the Four Tsar- 
doms of which muscovy oonisisted after 
THE Conquest of Siberia, Kazan, and 

(From Herberstein's Rerum Moscoviticarum 
Commentarii, 1549.) 


Many regiments were wavering, and the crowd would un- 
doubtedly have backed thorn up ; but Prince Troubetzkoi 
failed them, and at the critical moment could not be found. 
Ryleyev, one of the principal movers of the conspiracy, but 
a civilian, could not be expected to take command of the 
situation, and Prince Obolenski, who had to step into the 
gap, lacked the exceptional gifts required for such an under- 
taking. The mutinous soldiers formed a solid square and 
boldly repulsed every attack made on them by the loyal troops. 
The famous soldier. General Miloradovitch, the idol of the 
army, tried in vain to induce the mutineers to follow him 
back to the barracks. 

ReaUsing the danger to which the old man was exposed, 
the leader of the mutineers. Prince Obolenski himself, seized 
the horse's bridle and was on the point of leading Milorado- 
vitch out of the Square, when the hero of fifty-six battles 
was mortally wounded by a bullet. The same fate befell 
Colonel Stiirter, who was doing his utmost to bring the 
company of Grenadiers to their senses. 

Another overture for surrender was made by the Metro- 
pohtan of St Petersburg, accompanied bj' the Metropohtan of 
Kiev and other high ecclesiastics. With cross uphfted high, 
he pleaded with the men and, in the name of the Emperor, 
he promised them, as the Grand Duke Mikhail and Milora- 
dovitch had done before him, unconditional pardon to all 
but the ringleaders. But he pleaded in vain : the disaffected 
soldiers urged him to go home and to pray for them, but 
told him that he was interfering in business which did not 
concern him. 

The early nightfall of a December day was fast approach- 
ing : there was the danger that the crowd which had been 
dispersed by violence might return under cover of darkness 
and side with the disloj'^al soldiers. The Emperor's advisers 
therefore urged him to act quickly and drastically. Count 
Toll is reported to have pointed out to him that he had 
no other choice than to give the order to clear the Square 
with shots from cannon, or to resign from his position on 
the throne. 

As every attempt to bring the men to reason had failed. 


Nicholas now gave the order to fire — at first only blank shot. 
But the thunder of the guns was only greeted with the answer- 
ing thunder of the hurrah of the mutineers. Then the 
Emperor himself gave the order to fire on the closed ranks 
of the soldiers ; and when at last these men turned round 
and fled, they were met by the fire of other cannon. This 
indiscriminate shooting caused the death of many innocent 
men, onlookers included. 

The conspirators, to the number of two hundred and forty, 
were taken prisoners, and a severe investigation followed, 
in which the Emperor himself took part. He had personal 
speech with every officer, and what he heard from them 
opened his eyes to the existence of many abuses, which he 
decided to abofish. The flower of the Russian army was 
thus brought up for judgment. Seven months later the 
investigations were concluded and condemnation on one 
hundred and twenty-one men pronounced by the chief criminal 
tribunal, consisting of Metropohtans, bishops, senators, and 
generals ; some of the latter having to condemn their own 
subordinates, in many cases the best men of their regiment. 

The accused, many of whom were members of the highest 
aristocracy — princes, counts, barons, generals, colonels, etc. — 
had been divided into twelve categories. The first consisted 
of the five leaders, who were all condemned to be quartered. 
The Emperor, however, changed the sentence to one quite as 
degrading in the estimation of mifitary men — that of death 
by hanging. Thirty-one were condemned to be beheaded, 
but by the Emperor's orders were sentenced to perpetual 
banishment with hard labour in the mines. Next came 
seventeen officers, whose punishment of having to put their 
heads on the block as a sign of civil death, and to work in 
the mines for the rest of their lives, was commuted to a term 
of twenty years in the mines. The punishment of those 
belonging to the other categories ranged from banishment, 
imprisonment, loss of nobility, loss of rank with and without 
the prospect of regaining it, down to being transferred to 
Siberian and Caucasian regiments ; this, as a matter of fact, 
amounted to banishment. 

The five men condemned to death were typical both of 


the time and of the movement : Colonel Pestel, who was 
unanimously considered to be a man of iron character and 
great nicntal attainments, and of unswerving faitlifuhiess to 
his convictions ; Ryleyev, the soul of the Union in St Peters- 
burg — a noble, pure-minded enthusiast who in his spare time 
acted as the legal adviser of the poor who were in distress ; 
Colonel S. Mouraviev-Apostol, whose aim it had been to 
further the material welfare of the people, and who had 
studied abroad to fit himself for the task, and whose noble 
aspirations and pure unwavering faith so impressed the 
priest Myslovski that he said that his visits to this man in his 
cell filled him with awe and reverence. The fourth and fifth 
condemned were Lieutenant Kachovski and Sub-Lieutenant 
Bestoujev-R^Timin, a mere youth of twenty-two, but whose 
last talk with his comrade Mouraviev was on the immortahty 
of the soul. He found it hard to die so young, yet in a 
courageous reply to the Emperor summarised the whole 
object of the conspiracy. Nicholas had addressed to him 
these kindly words : " You know that I can pardon you, 
and if I were sure that in future you would be a faithful 
servant I would wiUingly do so." To this Bestoujev gave 
the memorable answer : " Your Majesty, that's exactly 
where the mischief hes — that you are above the law ; and 
it has been our aim and object to obtain for your subjects 
that in future their fate may depend upon the law, and not 
upon your momentary whim or impulse ! " 

On the way to the gallow-s the five condemned men were 
led to the church of the fortress, where they were compelled 
to Usten to their own funeral service. As they walked on, 
quietly, unflinchingly, the only one to speak was Mouraviev- 
Apostol, who addressed some words of comfort to the youngest 
of the five ; then, turning to the priest who was accompanj^ng 
them, he expressed regret that he should have been obhged 
to go with them — as though they had been malefactors ; to 
which the kindly priest repUed in the comforting words of our 
Lord to the dying thief. 

The hanging was so clumsily managed that the ropes 
broke and three of the condemned fell to the ground : then 
followed a few moments of appalHng anguish during which 


the ropes and nooses were rearranged. In the meanwhile 
the poor, tortured men blessed their Fatherland once again, 
and prayed for a brighter future for their brethren. But 
one of the condemned remarked with grim irony that nothing 
was well done in Russia, not even hanging ! 

The corpses were left hanging in the full view of the 
pubhc for the whole day. At night they were taken down 
and buried on an island where, to this day, the running water 
and the rusthng reeds whisper of the tragic end of these noble 
lives so rich in ideals, so fuU of promise — the forerunners of 
thousands which later on were to be laid down in the hope of 
obtaining a constitutional Government for the country. 

Even Karamsin, who could not be accused of liberal 
tendencies, had pleaded with the Emperor to bear in mind 
the fact that " he was not deaHng with personal and individual 
error but with that of the whole generation." The repre- 
sentatives of Great Britain and France had also pleaded with 
the Tsar, in the name of their respective Governments, that 
he would deal mercifully with the offenders. To Welhngton 
he remarked, " I will surprise the world with my clemency ! " 
— and yet thousands were banished to Siberia. 

The wives of most of the officers followed their husbands 
into exile, preferring a share in their hardships to separation. 
But this was very displeasing to the Emperor, who did his 
best to prevent it, causing all the children born to them in 
Siberia to be declared illegitimate : ten years later, however, 
this order was revoked. 

In the brave endurance of their exile these men were 
supported by the conviction that they were martyrs to a 
poUtical ideal. Mouraviev-Apostol wrote in his Bible, after 
having heard that he had been sentenced to death : " It is in 
the intention alone that guilt lies." He was conscious that 
the intention of himself and his comrades had been purely that 
of helping their country. They had erred as to the means 
employed, and paid for this with their Uves. 

A few weeks later the Emperor travelled to Moscow for 
his coronation, where, to his great joy and surprise, he was 
met by the Grand Duke Constantine who had come to do 
homage to his brother as his liege lord, and to prove to the 



nation tho sincerity of his desire to see his younger brother 
on the throne. 

It was an incident unique in history, this meeting between 
brothers who had, each in his turn, refused to wear the crown 
in order that the other might have it. The people greeted 
the Imperial brothers enthusiastically, Constantine's presence 
at the coronation giving them the assurance that it really 
was his Avill that Nicholas should reign instead of himself ; 
and wherever he went the loyal crowd greeted him with the 
cry : " Hurrah for Constantine ! " 




The events of 14tli December 1825 put back the clock for 
Russia. The experiences of that day left their indeUble mark 
not only on the character but also on the reign of Nicholas I. ; 
they confirmed him in certain views he had always held, and 
strongly influenced the direction of his poHcy, both domestic 
and foreign. On that day he seems to have dedicated himself 
to the work of " stamping out revolutions," both at home and 
abroad. In a letter to his brother he remarked : " Revolu- 
tion stands at the gates of Russia, but it will never penetrate 
into her so long as I live." 

It was a terrible experience for the new Emperor to find 
his authority thus threatened and attacked, and even his life 
endangered, on the very day of his coming into power. To 
the Grand Duke Constantine he wrote : " Your wish has 
been fulfilled. ... I am Emperor, but, good God, at what 
a cost ! At the cost of the blood of my subjects ! " He 
thought of the brave old General Miloradovitch and of the 
other officers who had been wounded for his sake in their 
vain attempt to turn the soldiers back into the paths of 

He was truly grateful for the protection which had been 
afforded him when he found out that an attempt was to have 
been made on his life ; in fact, the officer who was to have 
done the deed, himself confessed this to the Emperor, but at 
the same time told him that, although he had stood opposite 
to him for two hours with the revolver cocked, he had not 
been able to pull the trigger. Still, the intention had been 
there ! 



From this time forth the inherent severity of the Emperor's 
nature became his dominant characteristic. He came to the 
conchision tliat Russia required to be ruled with a firm and 
strong hand — that a clear, decisive will and an unswerving 
policy were needed : and he felt himself equal to the wielding 
of such ])ower. Referring to this opinion of his, he remarked : 
" I shall be surprised if any of my subjects dare to act counter 
to my will, once that will has been made known." The 
^larquis de Custine, who knew him weU, said of him : " He 
desires to be obeyed where others desire to be loved." He 
also described him in the following words : "I have remarked 
with, involuntary pity tliat he cannot smile at the same time 
with the eyes and the mouth — a want of harmonj' which 
denotes constant restraint. He is less gracious, less pleasing, 
than his brother Alexander, but more sincere ; but he has an 
iiabitual expression of severity which sometimes gives the idea 
of harshness and inflexibiUty. . . The judicious economy 
of the exercise of power is a secret of which the Emperor 
Nicholas is ignorant. ..." This iron \vill, this demand for 
obedience, had been fostered by Nicholas's early training. 
He expressed the hope that his critics and judges would always 
bear in mind the fact that he had not been educated to fill 
the post of Emperor, but merely to be a soldier, and that by 
his brother's sudden and unexpected death he had been placed, 
A\dthout any warning or preparation, in the position of ruler 
of the vast Russian Empire. Nicholas was primarily a soldier, 
whose conception of hfe, according to his own declaration, 
was that of service. He expressed himself as content and 
happy in the army and at ease amongst soldiers, because in 
mihtary service order, legaUty, and discipHne were the rule ; 
it allowed of no " knowing better " or contradicting, and 
everything fitted into its proper niche. He honoured the 
miUtary profession because in it everything is service — 
" even the highest in command serves." 

The successor of Alexander I. was a born ruler, clever, 
firm, unbending, who held his nation in an iron grip ; and 
for a man of such a temperament to be balked on the very 
day of his oflScial accession to the throne was fatal to the 
libert}' of the people. Yet Nicholas loved Russia, and in 


his manifesto solemnly declared that " it is our earnest desire 
to live solely for the welfare of our beloved Fatherland . . . 
that our hope is to obtain the blessing of God and the love of 
our people. . . ." His desire to uphold and increase the 
greatness of his country degenerated into an attitude of 
aloofness, and even to pronounced antagonism, to all things 
foreign. It was he who beheved that, as Western influence 
was democratic and dangerous, such influence should not 
only be staved off by every means, but also eradicated where 
it had taken root. 

The spring of Russia's spiritual regeneration was inter- 
rupted by a long speU of frost, which held all life in abeyance 
during the thirty years of this reign. It was a strange aberra- 
tion for so clever a man, to have imagined that repressive 
measures alone could benefit a nation. 

The investigation into the cause of the Decembrist Con- 
spiracy, the declarations of the accused, and the many docu- 
ments confiscated in the domiciliary raids of those implicated 
acted as an eye-opener to the Emperor in regard to the 
condition of his realm and the causes which had led to 
the conspiracy. He personally interrogated each of the 
accused, and thus gained an insight into the motives which 
had inspired the conspirators ; and this motive he found to 
have been, in every case, patriotism — misguided perhaps, 
but nevertheless patriotism, and therefore worthy of consider- 
ation. That this was so the Emperor had to acknowledge, 
and he therefore commanded that a memorandum should 
be drawn up for his guidance out of the material collected 
during the investigation. Of this memorandum, which 
always lay on his writing-table, he sent copies to his brother 
the Grand Duke Constantine, and to the President of the 
Imperial Council, Count Kotchoubey. It was a faithful 
summary of the abuses prevalent in the Empire and of the 
suggestions for reform made by " his friends of the fourteenth," 
as Nicholas called the Decembrists, whom he had, neverthe- 
less, felt justified in punishing severely. 

For the moment it almost seemed as if all their thought and 
work had not been in vain ; for it had brought Nicholas I. 
face to face with the fact that his adored brother had left his 


count rv in a ik'plorable condition. As long ago as 1815 the 
Grand Duchess Ekatorina Pavlovna had written to her 
brother witli reference to existing conditions : " Vous savez 
comnie les affaires de rint6rieur sont mal, et chaque jour on 
apprend do nouveaux details ; da plus, nous avons une race 
de m6contents, detracteurs et raisonneurs qui ne fait que 
s'accroitre, et sans etre injuste, on ne peut pas nicr les motifs 
qui leur donnent prise, car lis existent." 

Nicholas was anxious to change all this and to create 
order out of chaos. An eminent historian calls this famous 
memorandum " the unfulfilled programme of his reforms and 
the fulfilled programme of his errors." 

The official entrusted with the drawing-up of this docu- 
ment began it with a few reflections and deductions of his 
own — to the effect that the liberal education given to young 
people, fostered as it had been by the Government and 
encouraged by society, had led them to favour " republican 
free-thought," which had been nourished by the evils which 
existed all around, and which, in their turn, had given a 
fresh impetus to and valid reasons for the desire to bring 
about a change. 

Apart from the introduction, this document contained 
an unvarnished description of conditions as viewed by the 
conspirators, together with the reasons for the existing state 
of affairs, i.e. the lack of clear and definite laws ; the bad 
administration of the law ; unsatisfactory administration of 
the provinces, which had not undergone any reform since 
the time of Catherine ; and the loss of prestige of the Senate, 
whose ukases were frequently, and with impunity, ignored 
by the governors. Another serious evU was the bad organisa- 
tion of the various ministries and their lack of cohesion ; 
and, finally, the existence of the " Committee of Ministers " 
— a body which seemed to expend its energy in the covering- 
up of evils and abuses in the various departments, and which 
threw the responsibility of everything upon the shoulders 
of the Emperor. 

The responsibility of the ministers, instead of being indi- 
vidual, had become collective^ and thus they were all better 
able to screen their actions behind the " will " of the Emperor. 


This arrangement of affairs made it necessary for the Emperor 
to look through an immense mass of detail in which mis- 
takes were easily lost sight of, and it is not surprising that 
he occasionally gave his consent to conflicting measures. 

In fact, chaos was reigning, and the civil administration 
of the Empire was thoroughly rotten. The Emperor fully 
realised this, and expressed his sorrow and displeasure that 
it should be so ; but he considered it a hopeless task to try 
for any remedy. 

The memorandum also pointed out the abuses resulting 
from the insufificient salaries of officials, and from the arbitrary 
system of taxation, and the fact that the State monopolies 
of alcohol and salt formed an unsound basis for the finance. 
It showed that there was no real order in the management 
of the State. 

The military colonies were clearly shown to have resulted 
in a fiasco ; and as to the navy, it was proved to be practically 
non-existent, for the new ships built annually were never 
used but were simply left to rot. 

Again, the condition of the various classes of society was 
analysed : that of the serfs, for instance, who suffered so cruelly 
owing to the excessive labour extracted from them ; of the 
peasants belonging to the Crown lands, who were cared for 
by no one, and only exploited by the officials ; and the abject 
poverty of the village clergy, who had no fixed salary and thus 
were dependent on the goodwill of the peasants. 

The lack of a middle class, as it exists in other States, was 
also touched on, as well as the unsatisfactory condition of 
the commercial classes, especially those of Moscow, who had 
practically been ruined by the war of 1812. 

This resume of existing evils and their suggested remedies 
helped the Emperor to realise where his duty lay. He 
clearly perceived the necessity for codification of the existing 
laws and for the complete reorganisation of the fleet. These 
two points were successfully carried in the course of years. 
He also instituted a careful study of those projects of reform 
which had been left in abeyance during the reign of his 

What Speranski had been hindered from accomplishing 


during Alexander's reign he was now enabled to carry out 
under Nicliolas, who availed himself of this faithful man's 
services. This eminent legislator produced and published 
a Complete Collection of Russian Laws ; thus, for the first 
time, every citizen could study for himself the laws of the 
land. Speranski pointed out to the Emperor how imperative 
it was to provide a number of efficient lawyers, and as a result 
of his suggestion many promising young students were sent 
abroad to study in Berlin under the great legal authority 
Savigny. The experiment proved a complete success. 

The case of the eighteen and a half million peasants living 
on Crown lands was also taken up, and a special official, 
Count Kisselev, was appointed to look after their well-being. 
This upright and honest man did a great deal in every way 
to ameliorate their lot — sanitation, schools, industry, all 
were looked after. 

During the first two years of his reign the Emperor tried 
to abolish the most flagrant evils : his innate love of order 
made it impossible for him to rest until at least a semblance 
of order had been established. He made many mistakes, 
for his education had left him ignorant of legislation and of 
the science of state-craft, thus handicapping him severely. 

The Emperor's mentality, accentuated by his military 
training, was destined to play an important part in the govern- 
ing of the nation. The dual attitude of conservatism and 
reaction which characterised his reign throughout was the 
mixed result of his natural inclination toward order and love 
of detail, of his worship of uniformity and discipline as well 
as of the desire to carry out the policy of his late brother, 
as expressed in the Holy Alliance ; also his innate opposition 
to all liberal tendencies, and fear lest those which had already 
taken root in the nation might produce undesirable fruit. 

The actions of Nicholas were therefore what might be 
expected, but his people suffered terribly under his iron rule ; 
and the very stiffness and tightness of the uniform he wore 
were symbolical of his nature and ideals, and very soon after 
his accession to the throne he put all the officials of his 
Empire into uniform. 

This rigorous severity made itself particularly felt in the 

Ma'".no Domino < 

Nw>>0(1Rv5D5Kll :TZAR Ka. 

0\ i.oRSKii . Per NtKii ,\'EAr.< 

>k> D\\T Ni.»*Xi>RODI IN Tt 






d\'cvm ; ft mvlta 


CalVllumcum tribu 

I'ub fliirrnri Imporio, p 

•rr M-igiii Ducis Bi>ri(T 

liiu cftdimt-nfu fui 

oitrrnjr. Ji 

Plan of the Kremlin in the Reign of Boris Gcdounov, A.D. 1600. 


spiritual and intellectual life of the nation. Nicholas had 
not shared the pietistic sympathies of his elder brother, nor 
had he the breadth and toleration, although, personally, he 
was an earnest believer who read his Bible daily ; but he 
hated bigotry and hypocrisy, and consequently the services 
of Araktcheyev and Magnitzi were speedily dispensed with. 
He upheld, however the intolerant attitude of the Metro- 
politan Photi with regard to the Russian Bible Society, which 
he closed in 1827 ; but, although the Emperor confiscated 
its property and prohibited the printing of new Bibles, he 
permitted the sale of those already in hand. He also con- 
fiscated the property of the Roman Catholic Church, which 
had been making many converts amongst the aristocracy ; 
and in consequence of the pressure brought to bear upon them, 
four and a half million Greek Catholics in Poland were forced 
to return to the bosom of the Greek Orthodox Church. 

In the person of the chief Procurator, or lay head of 
the Holy Synod, General Protassov, whom Nicholas himself 
had placed in this position, the Emperor found a ready 
assistant in the carrying out of his intolerant measures. This 
military head of the highest ecclesiastical authority of the 
realm entered whole-heartedly into the spirit of his master, 
and orthodoxy was called in to the support of autocracy. 

Up to this time the spirit of propaganda had been 
entirely absent from the State Church. Although schismatics 
and sectarians had never been quite free from persecution, 
and in fact had enjoyed respite from persecution only when 
the attitude of the reigning monarch happened to be a tolerant 
one, members of other creeds had never been interfered with. 
During the reign of Nicholas, however, a new spirit awoke : 
that of proselytising. 

Hitherto the idea had been that, as it was only natural 
for people of Russian blood to be Greek Orthodox, so it was 
just as natural for the Germanic peoples to be Protestant 
and the Latin races to belong to the Church of Rome. Con- 
I sequently, there had been no religious antagonism between 
the members of different creeds living side by side in the 
Empire. From the time when foreigners first began to settle 
in Russia they enjoyed liberty of worship, and this attitude 


of toleration was expressed in the answer of Ivan the Terrible 
to the Jesuit Posse vin, apropos of the Lutherans against 
whom he was intriguing : "In our realm live many members 
of other Churches, and we leave them to follow out their 
own doctrines : only, they must not attempt to spread them 
abroad amongst our people." 

This same attitude was also exhibited by Peter the Great 
in the manifesto of 1720 in which he invited foreigners to 
his Empire. He based his toleration on the fact that it was 
not his wish to force any man's conscience : " for every 
Christian should look after his own salvation." 

The only Church to make propaganda in Russia was that 
of Rome. For centuries past the Popes had aimed at winning 
the allegiance of the Tsars, and thereby the nation, and it 
was just because of these attempts at proselytising that the 
State had had occasion to interfere. 

The Protestant population of the Baltic provinces and 
of Finland were left in full possession of their religious liberties 
and privileges, which had been guaranteed on oath to them 
by every Emperor since Peter the Great and Alexander re- 
spectively had joined these countries to the Empire. It was, 
therefore, a perfectly new departure for the Holy Synod to 
open up a proselytising campaign in Livonia. But the Greek 
Orthodox missionaries employed secular rather than spiritual 
means, holding out as a bait free grants of land and money, 
with the result that about one hundred thousand converts 
were made in the 'forties. ^ Instances of compulsion were 
not unknown : such as the case of a priest who anointed all 
the children in an infant school, who from henceforth 
were reckoned members of the Russian Church, which 
neither they nor their children after them could ever leave. 
Propaganda on the same lines was carried on in the 
Caucasus. This new departure was fraught with considerable 
danger to the peace of the Empire, as it only served to increase 
restlessness and dissatisfaction, already prevalent. 

The Emperor's fear of Western influence led to the estab- 
lishment, in 1826, of a rigorous censorship, which was exer- 
cised from seventeen different centres. This placed the 
^ See Chapter XXIV., " The Baltic Provinces." 


intellectual life of the nation under a ban : all modern thought 
was to be excluded ; every manuscript, with the exception 
of works produced by the Academy of Science and official 
documents, had to pass through the hands of the censor — 
even music was not exempt. Lists of prohibited books were 
sent annually to all libraries and bookshops ; and woe to 
him who dared to ignore them ! As every newspaper had 
to be passed in manuscript by the censor as well as every 
book, and as a strict censorship was exercised at the frontier 
on imported literature, all intellectual matter had to pass 
through a process of filtration in order to clear it of the bacilli 
of progress, or of any thoughts contradictory to those officially 
sanctioned by Government. 

This rigorous regime lasted till 1830, when Prince Lieven, 
a cultured, devout-minded man, became Minister of Educa- 
tion ; he moderated and limited the application of censorship 
to such matters as might prove politically dangerous. After 
only a few years he was succeeded by Count Ouvarov, who 
for nearly eighteen years regulated the intellectual life of the 
nation with an iron hand, and the men who came after him 
showed still greater zeal. The activity of the Ministers 
of Education resulted merely in handicapping education. 
Prince Mentchikov, in commenting on these conditions, char- 
acterised them in the following words : " Formerly education 
in Russia dragged itself along like a lame horse, but at least 
one with four legs ; now it has only three, and is obstinate 
(a pun on the minister's name) into the bargain." 

The Emperor's partiality for uniform showed itself in 
the law which made the wearing of uniform compulsory for 
all teachers and pupils in national schools, colleges, universities, 
etc., the idea being that this uniformity in outward appearance 
would tend to hold individuality in check, and would encourage 
a spirit of discipline. 

The Government schools, in which the Emperor took a 
great interest, became, under him, a recognised part of the 
official system, which resulted in the liberties hitherto enjoyed 
by the universities being curtailed, and even the study of 
philosophy prohibited. This dangerous subject could only 
be lectured on by clerical professors in the Ecclesiastical 


Academy. The Curator of the University of Moscow, Count 
Strogonov, however, managed to secure a certain freedom 
from police interference, and consequently intellectual life 
was less hampered in the ancient capital. 

In his anxiety to keep Russia quite free from the pernicious 
influence of the West, the Tsar made it no longer permissible 
for Russian students to study abroad ; an exception was made, 
however, for those chosen few who were sent to studj^ law, 
as the country was in such need of lawyers that, until they 
could be trained at home, Western infection had to be risked. 
In these attempts at keeping off Western influence the Emperor 
was applauded and whole-heartedly supported by the mem- 
bers of the Panslavistic party. Nicholas I., by his anti- 
foreign attitude, and by his zeal for all things Russian, helped 
to create and strengthen the nationalistic idea. 

This idea, M^hich first saw the light during the latter part 
of Catherine's reign, and which had passed through various 
stages, was by this time fuUy matured. Russia was merely 
passing through the same process of national awakening as 
all the rest of Europe ; but in each countrj^ this movement 
manifested itself in a different form. In Russia it was 
accepted as a State doctrine, and thus came to be reckoned 
as an adjunct to Government and Church — to autocracy 
and orthodoxy. 

The nationalist theory developed gradually, and manj' 
strange factors and influences helped to fashion and shape it. 

The earhest beginnings of this movement may be traced 
back to the days when, owing to the reforms of Peter the 
Great, a cleavage was made between the upper and the lower 
classes — when European culture came to be the hall-mark 
of nobiUty. We know how bitterly one party, the " Old 
Russians," resented the Westernisation introduced by Peter, 
and how persistently^ he had to fight and struggle against 
this conservatism when endeavouring to establish his re- 
forms ; and we know how tenaciously the " Old Befievers " 
especially, whose adherents were to be found mostly among 
the lower classes, clung to the old ways. 

During the reign of Peter's successors, nationalism versus 
European culture had been regarded as a matter of purely 



theoretical interest. The extreme partisans on both sides 
were held up to ridicule by satirists, and several Russian 
authors of this period began to bemoan the loss of the 
patriarchal virtues and habits of former days ; and they 
sighed for the "good old times," which, as a matter of fact, 
had been very far from good. 

Catherine decided to make use of these journahsts, and 
in order to strengthen her 
reactionary attitude she got 
them to satirise the n^w 
liberal ideas which she had 
abandoned as dangerous and 
wanted to make ridiculous 
in the eyes of society. A few 
publicists, Novikov among 
others, realised this man- 
oeuvre, and refused to be 
made tools of. To quote 
Professor Milyukov : " Then, 
for the first time, the bound- 
ary hne was drawn between 
the defenders of the back- 
ward and of the forward 
movement in Russia. The 
Government was with the 

former : the Liberals were (The professional armed men of Muscovy, a body 
ii • J i-U U disbanded by Peter the Great. From Herberitein's 

garnering arOUna tne banner Herum MoscoviUcarum CommentarH, 1549.) 

of opposition. From that 

moment the ' nationahstic ' theory received a governmental 
and reactionary meaning which it has preserved to the 
present time. . . ." 

The Empress had some difficulty in finding a basis for her 
nationalistic theory ; for the great idea at the moment was 
that of " humanity," of the unity of all mankind ; while the 
nationalistic theory, on the other hand, required pecuHarity 
and differentiation. Catherine tried to solve the difficulty in 
a simple but drastic manner. AH that was bad in Russia, 
she contended, was of foreign origin ; all that was good and 
lovable was of genuine Slav origin. 

One of the Strkltzi. 


She found a supporter in the historian Bolteen, who, 
although starting from a different standpoint, arrived at the 
same conclusion. He proved that Russians were different 
from other people, and that this was due to " the outward 
conditions of historical growth, and also to the cHmate." 

It was not, however, in the eighteenth century that a 
satisfactory nationalistic theory was formulated. The next 
stage was passed through in the first quarter of the nine- 
teenth centurj', when Russian thinkers, like those of the 
rest of Europe, were carried away by the wave of romanti- 
cism. According to the new creed, a nation was no longer 
considered a " sum of individual units, entirely equal to 
one another and bound together by a formal or tacit act of 
' social compact,' but an organised whole, as a unit, acting 
on a kind of collective impulse." Philosophical reasoning 
led to the deduction that there was a law underMng the 
evolution of history, and, again to use Professor Milyukov's 
words : " Between a world of chance and a world of miracles 
romanticism interposed an intermediate notion, that of a 
world of natural law, performed by God and realised by man's 
conscious volition." 

The nations were looked upon as tools in the hands of 
a great Master-builder, and to each tool was allotted its 
own particular share in the great building of human develop- 
ment. This idea was worked out in Hegel's Philosophy of 
History, and from it Russian philosophers and sociologists 
borrowed the conceptions which they apphed to their own 

The fact that it was the Napoleonic wars and the sub- 
sequent dehverance from the invader which awakened lq 
the Russian people a national consciousness, led, in certain 
circles, to a revulsion against French ideas, customs, etc., 
hitherto so prevalent in Russian society ; and with the swing 
of the pendulum all things Russian came to be lauded and 
admired. In the very heart of Russia, among the professors 
and students of the University of Moscow^, SlavophiHsm 
was born ; it began as a philosophy, not as a poHtical 

The axiom that each nation had a definite place and 


purpose in history had been accepted ; but what was to be 
Russia's contribution to the historj^ of mankind ? Out of 
the crucible of thought in which German theories and 
Russian feehngs had been amalgamated, the nationaUstic 
idea was produced. By a process of spiritual chemistry 
Western civilisation was analysed, and was found to be 
wanting in harmony. There was too much striving, too 
much antagonism between reason and feeling, and at last 
these Russian thinkers came to the conclusion that " Russia, 
on the other hand, was always striving to unite and reconcile 
the confhcting elements of life." 

Western thought had become rationaHstic, even atheistic ; 
the element of religion, so essential to the full development 
of man, was ignored ; the Slavophiles argued that " Western 
religion has chosen the way of reason and logic and so she 
has run astray, becoming the victim of her own infatuation 
and lack of humility. The Eastern Church alone knows 
what is the right way for human progress and toward eternal 
salvation." The Muscovite philosophers arrived at the point 
that neither atheism nor revolution was possible " in the 
Eastern world, it being the world of traditional religion — the 
religion of love and humility." They dug deeply into history 
to try and find proofs that this " essence of Eastern civiHsa- 
tion. Christian self -absorption in love," could also be found 
in that of Russia ; and, by dint of a great deal of casuistry, 
they found it in the Slavonic conception of " the village 
commune " — " the communahty of people in ' the land.' " 
But this same conception also served as the starting-point 
for quite another school of thought, which arrived at the 
conclusion that " it represented in germ the socialistic 

By equally theoretical deductions the Slavophiles idealised 
the State, making use of the tradition that the first rulers had 
not assumed power but had been invited to take it. 

Through a process of mental evolution, which was in- 
fluenced first by philosophy, then by natural science, and 
then by sociology, the Slavophiles reached the point of draw- 
ing up a programme for Russia. Her mission to the world, 
both religious and historic, was first to free all the Slavs under 


Turkish rule, and then to unite them in a confederation 
under the hegemony of Russia, but with Constantinople as 
their centre. Indeed, this was to a great extent the under- 
Ij-ing motive of the Emperor Nicholas's pohcy with regard 
to the Near East. 

But this theory was superseded by that of another Slavo- 
phile leader, who objected to all foreign contagion. His 
theory was that " Russian originality did not consist in a 
creation of the new, but in the preservation of the old, and 
he suggested that drastic measures should be taken ' to 
freeze out ' every new force, every element of progress, 
which should bud under the surface of Russian Byzantinism. 
Only this heroic cure could prevent decay." This purely 
negative theory of nationalism was attacked bj' the philosopher 
Soloviev, who showed that Christianity and progress were 
not antagonistic, and that there was no reason whatever for 
nationahsm to be reactionary. 

The Slavophiles beheved, as did the Emperor, in national 
uniformity — in one language, one faith — at all costs. It was 
this creed which led to the persecution of those subjects of 
the Tsar who spoke in other languages, held other doctrines, 
and used other forms of worship than those prescribed by the 
State Church. It also led to the putting down of political 
and social movements, and to the making of attempts to 
bring all the nations in the Empire down to one dead 

Prince Ouvarov, Minister of Education, expressed these 
ideas in a report of 1883, in which, among other things, he 
says : "... In the midst of reUgious and civil institutions 
rapidly on the dechne in Europe, keeping in \new the uni- 
versal spread of subversive ideas and attending to distressing 
events that were happening at every step, it was necessary 
to estabHsh the Fatherland on these stable foundations on 
which the welfare, the strength, and the Ufe of the nation 
are generally built ; it was necessary to discover such 
principles as belonged exclusively to Russia and those 
principles which formed its pecuUar characteristics ; to 
gather in one the sacred remainder of its nationahty, and 
there to anchor our hopes of salvation . . . without love 


for the belief of one's forefathers, the nation as well as the 
individual must perish." According to him, orthodoxy, 
autocracy, and nationality were the foundations upon which 
the State rested. Everybody was considered dangerous who 
did not uphold this doctrine, which has been a source of 
endless contention, and even of serious conflict, between the 
Government and certain sections of society. 

Contemporaneously with the nationaHstic movement a 
radical one was developing. Its starting-point and its 
fundamental idea were the same : " the idea of the people, 
and of the people's glorious destiny in the future." The 
initiators were members of the same class of society, and 
living side by side with the nationaHstic leaders ; cultured, 
refined men, holding the same philanthropic views and 
humanitarian ideals. To quote Alexander Herzen : " We 
and the Slavophiles represented a kind of two-faced Janus ; 
only, they looked backward and we forward. At heart we 
were one, and our hearts throbbed equally for our minor 
brother, the peasant, with whom our mother-country was 
pregnant. But what for them was a recollection of the 
past was taken bj^ us to be a prophecy for the future." 
It was just this difference of view which finally led to 
an irreconcilable enmity. But meanwhile it was, as yet, 
early days, and the tendencies were not so defined. 

The fact that such a conspiracy as that which had broken 
out on his accession to power should not have been found 
out by the poHce decided the Emperor to reorganise the 
poHce system and to create a pohtical constabulary — the 
" Gendarmerie," whose duties included the prevention of 
abuses in the administration of the country. It was his 
intention that this new body should consist solely of honour- 
able men who would command both fear and respect. 

This new body of secret poHce came under the direction 
of the Imperial Chancellery, which consisted of sixteen 
divisions, of which this was the third. Count Benkendorf, 
who drew up its rules and regulations, was genuine in his 
desire to further and protect the welfare of the nation ; but, 
unfortunately, his well-meant plan degenerated into a system 
of espionage and of legalised arbitrariness. The " Third 



Division," as this hated organisation was called, was sub- 
divided into four classes : (1) the ordinary poHce ; (2) those 
who were to keep watch over sectarian schismatics, false 
coiners, and forgers, and who had all exiles in their charge ; 
(3) those who had to keep an eye on all foreigners ; and the 
fourth division had to deal mth the reports which came in 
from all parts of the Empire in order that the Emperor 
might be kept au courant with everj^thing that was going 
on. All these reports had to be headed : "To be given into 
the hands of the Emperor." 

The activity of the secret poUce caused a feehng of in- 
security among all classes of society, and the close super- 
vision irritated the nation. The " Third Division " came to 
be abhorred as an instrument of tyranny, and the acti\dties 
of this institution probably did more than anything else to 
create the impression that the Emperor was severe to the 
point of cruelty. 

Nicholas's intention of preventing the influx of new 
ideas led him to make strict regulations with regard to foreign 
travel : he also forbade the nobiUty to employ foreign tutors 
and governesses, and made the passport system more rigorous 
than ever. By this means he tried to build up a wall behind 
which his nation was to work out its own destiny in self- 
sufficient isolation. 

The Emperor's honest desire to advance the material 
welfare of liis people showed itself in many ways. The 
problem of serfdom was ever present with him, and in 
order to study it carefullj^ he instituted a secret commission, 
of which Speranski was the soul. At seven different periods 
it met to deUberate on this burning question, but without 
coming to any definite conclusion as far as the people were 
concerned. A few measures for the amehoration of their 
lot were, however, introduced — such as, in 1842, the regula- 
tions for a serf bujing freedom for himself ; and in 1847 
serfs were given the right of bujdng up the estates of insolvent 
masters — ^in fact, of having the privilege of holding property 
of their own. 

Although Nicholas never managed to find any satis- 
factory solution to the problem of serfdom, he was more 


successful in his dealings with the middle class. He in- 
stituted the class of " honourable citizens," which was open 
to all the sons of artisans and tradespeople who could produce 
the diploma either of the Academy of Arts or of the University, 
or indeed of any establishments for higher education. He 
also founded two important colleges for the training of 
professors and teachers, in compensation for the embargo 
placed on foreign study. At the same time the Emperor 
fostered and encouraged national literature, and personally 
acted as censor to the poet Pushkin, whose genius shed such 
lustre over his reign. This poet's poHtical sj'mpathies and his 
friendship for some of the Decembrists had inspired him, when 
only twenty years of age, to write an " Ode to Liberty " and 
other shorter satirical poems of a revolutionary nature. For 
this he was exiled to Bessarabia, and later kept in banish- 
ment on his small estate in Central Russia ; otherwise he would 
probably have been in St Petersburg at the outbreak of the 
conspiracy in 1825, and he too might have had to end his 
days in Siberia, as did many of his friends. 

After the revolution in Paris and other capitals of 
Europe in 1848 the Emperor became more stringent than 
ever. He put obstacles in the way of a university career, 
and limited the number of students for each university to 
three hundred ; and thus, out of fifty million inhabitants, 
only two thousand nine hundred could become students, 
and these had to spend their lives under the strictest pohce 
supervision, like the professors themselves. 

But in spite of the fact that the iron rule of the Emperor 
was making itself felt in every sphere of political and admini- 
strative life, and although the censorship was doing its utmost 
to clip the wings of Pegasus, the intellectual life of the nation 
soared higher than ever before. Despite the darkness of this 
ice-bound political winter, to which the reign of Nicholas I. 
has been compared, wonderful flowers of literature found 
place to bloom. 

This period produced the exquisite poetry of Pushkin 
and Lermontov, and that of a number of minor poets, such 
as Koltsov, and wonderful fables by Krylov ; the graphic 
novels and comedies of Gogol, so full of humour ; the 


works of the greatest novelists Russia ever had, Tourgeniev 
and Leo Tolstoi ; and those of other and lesser lights, 
Dostoyevski, Gontcharov, etc. In fact, poets and novelists 
abounded — many first-rate and others whose merits have 
been disputed, but all of them idealists, influenced by the 
conditions of their day, which they depicted with their ready 

These conditions — the lack of liberty, the sufiferings of 
the serfs, the struggle between the old school of thought and 
the new — are all brought to light in the literature of this 
period ; and in perusing it the development of the nation 
can be clearly traced. 

The drama, too, was especially brilliantly represented by 
Ostrovski, who holds with regard to the Russian drama, the 
same position that Tourgeniev and Tolstoi occupy with 
regard to the Russian novel. The first Russian opera, en- 
titled A Life for the Tsar, was written by Glinka. Periodi- 
cals and journals flourished, and some of the deepest thinkers 
occupied themselves with the study of philosophy and history ; 
in fact, this period produced a number of first-rate historians, 
such as Ustrailov, Soloviev, Kostomarov, etc., etc., whose 
productions have become the standard works of Russian 
history. Publicists like Herzen, critics like Belinski, and a 
host of other eminent men, enriched this era with the fruit 
of their brains. 

But it was only as long as these men — whether poets, 
dramatists, historians, publicists, or economists — confined 
themselves to a trend of thought which was purely national 
and in harmony with the tenets of the Slavophiles, that all 
went well with them. 

Art, however, is free, and cannot be for ever held in bonds, 
nor can it foUow an official programme ; and no amount of 
censorship will ever eradicate progressive thought, though 
for a time it may prevent it from spreading. A great many 
of Russia's thinkers saw things as they were ; for them the 
past had lost its glamour, and the present, with its chains and 
fetters, stood before them in all its sordid reality. And it 
was of this they spoke and wrote, in the hope of preparing 
the ground for liberty and emancipation, which they felt 


must surely come. The Emperor, on the other hand, meant 
to put off that day as long as possible, and had come to realise 
that the old state of affairs, which he aimed at preserving, 
was more endangered by the spreading of ideas of social 
reform than by actual political agitation, which was ruthlessly 
put down wherever it appeared. There was, for instance, 
the case of Petrachevski, the leading spirit of certain associa- 
tions the members of which were earnest, thoughtful young 
men, many of them possessed of first-class literary talent, 
and who had made a careful study of political science, hoping 
and planning for the future reorganisation of Russia. In 
1848 the members of Petrachevski's circle were regarded as 
political offenders. An investigation was instituted by the 
Government, in the hope of weeding out those elements of 
thought and criticism which were so dangerous to the old 
regime. The result was that all these men were condemned 
to death, but after the sentence had been read to the accused 
it was commuted to one of exile, forced labour, etc. Severe 
judgment was meted out to the literary representatives of the 
new ideas ; many of them had to taste the loneliness of exile 
and the horrors of imprisonment. Some of the choicest 
poems and most powerful novels have been written by these 
very men. 

Idealism, enthusiasm, glowing patriotism, and a love of 
philosophy were the principal characteristics of the thoughtful 
and productive minds of this period. 

Perhaps what has been most adversely criticised in 
Alexander I. was his vacillation — the lack of stability which 
stamped its impress on his whole reign. This reproach, how- 
ever, cannot be levelled against the Emperor Nicholas, who, 
never swerving to the right or left, carried out the policy 
of repression all through. Of him the nation knew at least 
what to expect, yet everyone felt that the severity of such 
a winter must one day be superseded by the genial warmth 
of the spring. 

The manifestation of life cannot be held down for ever ; 
it can be held in just as little as the mountain brook which 
lies hidden for a time beneath a thick crust of ice and a layer 
of snow. To the careless passer-by who does not stand still 


to listen, the silence of death seems to reign ; but to him who 
has the ear to hear and who stops to listen will come the j 
faint gurgle of unfrozen waters flowing far below the frozen 
surface. When spring sets in these wintry bonds will be burst i 
through, and the very ice and snow, now melted, will help j 
to swell the volume of water rushing down the mountain-side | 
into the plain, fertilising the valleys by its overflow. 




The joy-bells for the Emperor's coronation at Moscow had 
hardly ceased ringing when the disturbing news reached the 
ancient capital that Persian troops had invaded Russian 
territory, but they were driven back by General Yermolov, 
the commander-in-chief of the Caucasian forces. 

This raid inaugurated a series of campaigns on the Asiatic 
frontier, which eventually resulted in the spread of Russian 
influence far into Central Asia, During the next few years 
successful operations against the Persians were carried on, 
and in 1828 the Treaty of Turkmantchai was concluded, by 
which it was settled that the river Araxes should form the 
frontier between the two countries, that the provinces of 
Erivan and Nachitchevan should be incorporated into the 
Empire under the name of Armenia, and the whole Armenian 
Church placed under Russian protection. Also a heavy war 
indemnity was imposed and a favourable commercial treaty 

A year later the Russian Ambassador in Teheran was 
murdered, and it was only the personal intervention of the 
Crown Prince of Persia, who travelled to St Petersburg to 
apologise for the outrage, which prevented a fresh outbreak 
of war ; from that time forward Russian influence became a 
permanent and important factor in Teheran. 

Although the Emperor Nicholas was endeavouring mainly 
to carry on his late brother's policy, he struck out a line of 
his own with regard to Turkey. He was not satisfied with 
making mere diplomatic representations and protests against 



the ill-treatment of the Balkan Christians, but decided to 
take advantage of his position as their recognised protector 
to demand from the Porte the strict enforcement of all the 
stipulations laid down in the Treaty of Bucharest. Supported 
by France and Great Britain, he also demanded the evacuation 
of the Danube principalities and the recognition of Serbian 
autonomy. A part of these demands was acceded to, and 
Turkey was given seven years in which to settle the Serbian 

By the Treaty of Akkerman, signed in October 1826, the 
influence of Russia became predominant, and she was ready 
to enforce the conditions of the treaty at the point of the 
bayonet. Meanwhile the Emperor entered into an alliance 
with England and France, and a joint note was prepared 
by the allies to secure protection for the Greeks. In July 
1827 the Treaty of London, " the corner-stone of Greek 
independence,'.' was signed ; it aimed at putting an end to 
the Greek war and thus to deliver Greece from Ottoman 

But the Sultan refused to give in to the demands of the 
allies, and Nicholas sent his ships to join the allied fleet in 
the Mediterranean. 

The Turkish fleet was destroyed by the united fleets at 
Navarino in 1828, and the ships which escaped were blown 
up by the Turks themselves. The news of this victory, which 
reached St Petersburg at the same time as that of the taking 
of Erivan, caused great rejoicing in the capital. 

The Sultan, however, looked upon this violent demonstra- 
tion, at a time when he was supposed to be at peace with the 
Powers, as a great insult. He demanded from the allies an 
apology within twenty-four hours ; an indemnity for the loss 
of his ships ; that they should desist from further interference 
in Greek affairs ; and a definite declaration of their desire to 
live at peace with the Porte. 

The ambassadors were in a most awkward position, as they 
could not get at their Governments ; they tried to negotiate, 
but in vain. Turkey was reckoning on the assistance of 
Austria and trusting that England would withdraw from the 
alliance ; the Sultan called upon all the faithful to fight 


against the Christian foe and to avenge the Moslems killed ; 
the ambassadors had to leave Constantinople, and war became 
imminent. The Sultan considered Russia his most dangerous 
enemy, and accused her of having stirred up the Greeks and 
of having been the cause of every evil the Turks had suffered 
from during the last ten years. 

Canning had been very anxious to prevent matters coming 
to a head between Turkey and Russia, as he did not wish the 
Emperor of Russia to act as plenipotentiary for the rest of 
Europe, but he died 
before anything was 
definitely decided 
upon. After his death 
England's policy be- 
came somewhat vacil- 
lating, and, in spite of 
Wellington's antagon- 
ism to Canning's 
Oriental policy, 
Turkey did not get the 
desired assistance. In 
regard to English 
policy, the wife of the 
Russian ambassador 
then in London wrote 
to her brother in March 1828 : " England ... is afraid to go 
with us, afraid to go against us, and she thinks herself safe in 
holding midway between her two fears. This attitude is not 
very dignified for her, but it is not harmful to us, and that 
is the essential matter." 

Meanwhile, at the Russian Court military intrigues were 
complicating matters. Before going to war with Turkey, 
Nicholas considered it necessary to obtain a formal assurance 
from the other Powers that they at any rate considered him 
justified in declaring war. From France and Prussia he 
received most satisfactory replies to his letter : Austria tried 
to raise difficulties, and suggested that revolution might break 
out during the war, but finally promised to preserve strict 
neutrality. After standing out for some time, England at 

Design from a Goblet, 
(16th century.) 


last also admitted the fact that Russia's cause was a just one 
and that she had every reason to draw the sword upon her 

It was of the utmost importance to Nicholas to know that 
no coalition would be formed against him, and with this 
assurance at his back he declared war on Turkey in April 
1828. However, he could not do so in the name of the Alliance, 
as he would have liked, but only in his own. He publicly 
declared it his intention neither to take any European territory 
nor to destroy the Ottoman Empire, but merely to enforce 
the provisions of the Treaty of Akkerman which Turkey had 
failed to carry out. 

One Russian army under Wittgenstein crossed the Pruth, 
while Paskevitch attacked Turkey-in-Asia. The Emperor 
joined his troops and assisted at the siege of Shumla, which, 
however, together with that of Silistria, had to be given up. 
The taking of Varna was the only considerable success of 
this campaign, the progress of which had been greatly hindered 
by sickness among the troops : these wintered in Jassy, as 
the plague was infecting Bucharest. 

In Asia, on the other hand, Russian arms were successful, 
and the forts of Kars, Anapa, Poti, and others were taken, 
and later on also Erzerum, which completed the conquest of 
Armenia, assuring to Russia the commercial pre-eminence 
on the southern shores of the Black Sea. 

But by having single-handed made a fairly good fight 
against Russia the moral of the Turkish army was raised and 
the prestige of the Ottoman Government increased in the 
eyes of the Western European Powers. 

As the campaign of 1828 had no decisive results, the 
Emperor Nicholas hoped that the second campaign of 1829 
would bring " cette guerre odieuse," as he called it, to a 
satisfactory conclusion. But to achieve this it was necessary 
to have the best possible leaders and to prepare a definite 
and carefully considered plan of operations. " For," wrote 
the Emperor, " I cannot permit the folly and mistakes of the 
last year to be repeated." Amongst the members of the 
commission of ministers and generals which had been called 
to prepare this plan, opinions differed even with regard to 


the desirability of a campaign ; but all finally agreed that 
a lasting peace could never be secured unless it were signed 
*' beyond the Balkans." 

Meanwhile England and France had renewed their relations 
with Turkey. It was the policy of these two nations to exclude 
Russia from participating in the settling up of the Greek ques- 
tion ; Russian diplomacy, however, succeeded in keeping in 
with the Alliance in spite of Wellington's dislike to her doing 
so. Nesselrode was able to write to General Diebitch in 
April 1829 : " We have acquired complete security for the 
campaign which is now to open," It proved to be short, 
decisive, and successful for Russia ; the Bosphorus was block- 
aded and the Dardanelles shut off, thus threatening Con- 
stantinople with famine. General Diebitch destroyed the 
army under the Grand Vizier at the battle of Kouletchova, 
took Silistria, kept another army shut up in Shumla, and, 
after performing the hitherto unheard-of feat of crossing the 
Balkans, took Adrianople and threatened a descent on 

This daring generalissimo was running tremendous risks, 
as he had only a comparatively small force with him, and 
was also cut off from his base. But fortune favoured him 
all along the line, and the march towards Constantinople 
caused such panic that the Sultan and his ministers sued for 
peace, which was at once accorded, for the Russian general, 
conscious of his perilous position, was equally desirous of 
a cessation of hostilities. 

The Treaty of Adrianople was signed on 14th September 
1829, and, as the Emperor had been waging war on behalf 
of the Greeks and not for the sake of gaining territory or for 
the aggrandisement of his Empire, he did not retain any of 
the strongholds taken in the Danube region, with the exception 
of the islands in the estuary of that river. The Porte had 
to recognise the independence of Greece, to open up the 
Dardanelles to all merchant vessels, and to pay a heavy 
indemnity. The Russian troops, moreover, were not to 
evacuate Moldavia and Wallachia until this indemnity had 
been paid. 

The conclusion of the treaty was a great triumph for 


Russia. Her power and influence had been strengthened in 
every way and her prestige increased ; the Tsar seemed to 
hold Turkey in his hand ; and a permanent pretext for future 
aggressiveness lay in the fact that, as recognised protector 
of the Balkan Christians, he had the right to interfere whenever 
he considered it necessary. 

Ten months after the signing of peace between Russia 
and Turkey the July Revolution broke out in France, and 
Nicholas I. determined to take the side of Charles X. against 
Louis PhiUppe. He recalled all Russian subjects, and Avould 
have declared war had not pohtical considerations forbidden 
it, and had not his brother and his Finance Minister pointed 
out to him in forcible terms that, after the expensive and 
sanguinary Turkish campaigns, a season of respite was ab- 
solutely necessary to his countr5^ This revolution, however, 
was destined to leave a distinct influence on Poland. 

After persistent and urgent representations had been 
made to him by the Grand Duke Constantine, Nicholas had 
consented to ^dsit the kingdom of Poland in 1829 in order 
to be crowned there in the traditional way ; but his brother 
had great difficulty in persuading him to hear the Te Deum 
sung in the Roman CathoUc Cathedral, and thus permit 
the participation of the Roman CathoHc clergy in the 
coronation ceremony. His brother, who was anxious to 
keep down the rising storm which he knew was brewing, 
reminded Nicholas that he could gain the hearts of his 
subjects only by showing toleration towards their rehgion : 
" Laissez les croyances aux hommes, ils ne vous en seront 
pas moins fideles et reconnaissants." 

The coronation took place in the Hall of the Senate, and 
the Emperor swore to uphold the constitution granted by 
Alexander I. in 1818. Nicholas was at this time in the flower 
of his manhood — tall, handsome, every inch a Idng. He 
tried by amiabihty of manner to conciHate the people, and 
many began to hope that constitutional rule, hitherto so 
sorely hampered, would now have a fair chance. But, un- 
fortunately, the Emperor made grave mistakes showing a 
want of pohtical tact, such as appointing eleven new senators, 
an act which, according to the constitution, was the preroga- 


tive of the Diet ; with the result that, on the whole, he was 
met with reserve and coldness. The Grand Duke Constantine, 
who knew the Poles well, reahsed the seriousness of the 
situation and feared comphcations. 

In conformity with his promise the Emperor called the 
Diet, which had not met for five years, and which he was to 
open in person in May 1830. Nicholas, to whom constitutional 
government was anathema, wrote to the King of Prussia to 
this effect, and also how trying it would be to him to find 
himself in such a gathering. In preparation for the event he 
studied all the speeches of Alexander on the subject, and 
remarked with reference to that made at the opening of the 
first Diet in 1818 : "This one is one of the chief causes of 
the events of December 14th." 

The ideas of the Tsar and the Poles as to what would 
further " the true happiness of Poland " differed considerably, 
and the Diet did not work on the lines laid out by Nicholas. 
A strong opposition party developed, which increased in 
vigour, especially after the request for a reunion of Lithuania 
with Poland had been refused, owing to the fact that the 
interests of the Autocrat of All the Russias clashed with 
those of the King of Poland. The Diet was closed after much 
futile discussion, having accomphshed nothing, and all this 
hastened on the crisis. 

In November 1830 a conspiracy broke out in the military 
college : the cadets marched to the palace of the Grand Duke, 
where they were joined by the troops on duty when given 
the password, " The hour is come." Constantine fled with 
aU his Russian soldiers and a few Pohsh troops which had 
remained loyal to him. He retired to a place near Warsaw, 
while the conspirators took possession of the arsenal and 
distributed arms to the citizens. 

The Grand Duke took things very quietly, as he did not 
wish to interfere with what he called " a Polish quarrel." 

A Provisional Government was set up in Warsaw in which 
the Princes Czartoryski, Radziwill, and others held office. 
A deputation waited on the Grand Duke, who promised to 
plead their cause to the Emperor ; for himself, he generously 
permitted any of his Polish soldiers, who desired to do so, to 


join their comrades in Warsaw — an offer thej'^ accepted to 
a man. He then \\-ithdrew ^^^th his few Russian soldiers 
from Poland, where his rule had ended in iBasco. He felt 
the situation most bitterly, and wrote to his brother : " J'ai 
le coeur navre : a cinquante et un ans, et apres trente-cinq ans 
de service, je ne croyais pas finir ma carriere d'une maniere 
aussi deplorable." 

The Emperor refused to hold any communication with 
the rebels : he had made up his mind to crush this rising 
A^-ith an iron hand. He wrote to his brother that if one of 
the two nations and one of the two thrones had to perish 
there could be no question as to which it should be. He felt 
himself justified in going to extremes — let them take the 
consequences ! And terrible indeed they were. 

Meanwhile, in Poland itself things were going on in a very 
unsatisfactory way. One Provisionary Government after the 
other was overthro-v^n, feehng ran high, and passions were 
let loose ; until, finally, on 22nd January- 1831, the last 
chance of obtaining an understanding with the Emperor was 
irremediably cut off by the Diet formally deposing the House 
of Romanoff. 

It was a foregone conclusion, when it came to the arbitra- 
ment of arms, which of the two would win in this uneven 
contest. The Pohsh army was weU discipHned and in perfect 
condition, but too small and not weU enough supphed \^dth 
ammunition to be able to withstand for any length of time 
the superior forces of Russia. The Grand Duke Constantine 
could not help feeling a certain glow of satisfaction when 
witnessing the stand the Poles made at the battle of Grochov, 
as it w^as he who had organised the army during his term of 
office. General Diebitch, who was appointed Governor- 
General of Poland, guaranteed to put down the revolution 
in a verj' short time ; but out of consideration to the Grand 
Duke, who loved Poland, and would have keenly resented 
a bombardment of Warsaw, he did not act as vigorously 
as Nicholas would have hked, with the result that the 
rising spread aU over the country. The PoHsh generahssimo, 
Chlopicki, a true patriot but an opponent of revolutionary 
measures, did all he could on his part to stave off this fratri- 


cidal war, but it was all of no avail. The quelling of this Polish 
insurrection was dearly paid for on both sides : the valour 
and courage of the PoUsh troops at the battle of Ostrolenko 
made up for their lack of numbers ; both sides were soon 
weakened, moreover, by the common foe, cholera, to which 
General Diebitch himself fell a victim. His successor, 
Paskevitch, the hero of Erivan, did not long have to consider 
the Grand Duke Constantino, who died shortly after the 
battle of Ostrolenko. Warsaw capitulated on condition that 
her troops should be permitted to withdraw from the capital. 
This was granted ; but only a day later the army was 
forced to surrender. Poland was defeated. Paskevitch, as 
Governor-General, carried out his master's wishes with regard 
to the unhappy land, and meted out judgment with ruthless 
severity. Poland was deprived of her constitution, and the 
ancient arrangement of her provinces was modified, turning 
them into mere administrative districts placed now under 
Russian officials. The University of Vilna was closed and 
the Polish language forbidden to be taught in the schools. 
A standing Russian army was quartered on the land and 
the Polish army was disbanded. In future all recruits were 
to be drafted into Russian regiments scattered aU over 
the Empire. The Governor-General was from henceforth in- 
vested with almost unlimited power. 

To those who directly participated in the national rising 
severe punishments, such as imprisonment, exile, and con- 
fiscation of property, etc., were meted out. The revolution 
was so completely quelled, and the regime of the new 
Governor-General so rigorous, that for more than a quarter 
of a century a deathfike quiet reigned. 

Although there was a temporary luU in hostihties on the 
south-western borders of the Empire, poHtical negotiations, 
peaceful penetration, skirmishes, and campaigns were being 
carried on on the Asiatic frontiers, with the result that the 
Russian sphere of influence was steadily widening, especially 
in the direction of Central Asia and of China ; and, in spite 
of protests on the part of Great Britain, the territory on the 
left bank of the Amur fell into Russian hands. 

In Central Asia Russia increased in power and prestige, 


and, after having opened up several trade routes and built 
forts, and after various more or less successful attempts to 
penetrate as far as Khiva, Russian suzerainty was finally 
recognised by the Khan. 

In the Caucasus a campaign was carried on wliich lasted 
for twenty years. The annexation of Georgia in 1801 had not 
led to anj' definite settlement in those regions. Since 1817 
Greneral Yermolov, commander-in-chief in Georgia, had done 
his utmost to bring that centre of lawlessness into a state of 
order, safety, and prosperity' ; he had built roads across Trans- 
Caucasia, and had fostered trade and commerce in every wa}'. 
But it cost an endless flow of blood and money to subdue 
those hardy, warUke mountain tribes. Their leader at that 
time was that most briUiant and elusive of mountain chiefs, 
Shamyl, who was honoured and foUowed by the fanatical 
mountaineers, not only as their miUtary but also as their 
spiritual head — to them he was a prophet. 

After a tour in the Crimea the Emperor Nicholas visited 
the Caucasus, and at Tiflis he received the representatives of 
the various provinces which had been added to his dominions. 
He also visited Armenia and Erivan and saw for himself 
something of the extent to which Russia had grown in Asia. 
It is not to be wondered at that he felt proud and happy in 
the possession of such an Empire ; but he also reahsed the 
responsibiUty it entailed, and his own need for wisdom lest 
he should abuse the power it was his priidlege to \^deld. 

A loyal address, presented to the Emperor in 1830 by the 
citizens of Moscow on the occasion of an exhibition there, 
contains amongst other things the foUowdng graphic refer- 
ence to the vastness of the Russian Empire : " Our Tsar . . . 
who with one hand shakes Teheran and Stamboul and with 
the other holds the fate of half a world. ..." They also 
expressed their desire to co-operate with him, declaring that 
" while his warriors were thundering at the strongholds of 
Asia, and at Constantinople, he was spending sleepless nights 
thinking of them and labouring for their welfare ; they, on 
their part, were working in hut and factory for the general 
good. ..." " We want to increase the wealth of our 
Fatherland ... we want, not by force of arms but by the 


effort of our brains, by labour and activity, to wrest from 
the foreigner our national treasures ; so that the whole 
country may have the benefit of them. Thus would we help 
to strengthen our Russian lands. ..." 

As in 1826 Alexander I. had morally supported the Sultan 
against " revolutionary " Greece, so in 1833 Nicholas supported 
the Sultan against Mehemed Ah, Viceroy of Egypt, whose 
victories had alarmed the Porte, which now requested the 
good offices of her Russian neighbours. Russian warships 
accordingly proceeded to Constantinople and troops to 
Hunkiar Skilessi ; but after peace had been concluded 
between the Sultan and the Viceroy, through the mediation 
of France, and the Russian troops still remained on, the 
Porte began to fear that the friend might be quite as danger- 
ous as the foe. In consideration of services rendered, Count 
Orlov succeeded in concluding a defensive aUiance for eight 
years with the Porte, in which it was agreed to close the 
Dardanelles to all foreign warships, the waters of the Black 
Sea thus becoming practically the monopoly of Russia. The 
protests of France were ignored, and Russian influence was 
consohdated in the Near East. 

In 1836 the Russian troops withdrew from the Danube 
principalities, as Turkey had by that time paid up her 
war indemnity. Diplomatic conversations and negotiations 
were carried on during the next few years ; the combina- 
tion of alhances shifted, but by 1843 Russia's prestige had 
steadily increased and there were sufficient opportunities 
for Nicholas I. to interfere in the concerns of Europe. 

The Emperor looked upon himself as the only sovereign 
who still carried out the principles laid down by the Holy 
Alliance ; he considered himself, therefore, the instrument 
ordained by Providence to crush out all revolutionary move- 
ments. The July Revolution in Paris in 1830 was the signal 
for revolutionary outbreaks in various other capitals. Nicholas 
offered to send troops to assist the King of Prussia in 
abohshing the constitution, an institution he considered most 
undesirable in a neighbouring State. Just then Russia's 
neighbours along her western frontier were in a state of 
ferment — the Slavs in Austria, the Wallachians and Mol- 



davians, the Hungarians and Roumanians, were all passing 
through a period of revolution. 

In the case of the Hungarians, Nicholas actually sent 
troops in 1848 to assist the Austrian Emperor in bringing his 
rebelUous subjects to order. General Paskevitch was soon 
after able to report to the Tsar : " Hungary lies at the feet 
of your Majesty." The Emperor was pleased with this, but 
not with the knowledge, which reached him about the same 
time, that his soldiers were openly sympathising with the 
Hungarian rebels. 

In 1849 he interfered in the rising of Bothnia and Bulgaria, 
\vith less happy results, however, than had been the case when 
a few years pre\aously he had sided with the Sultan against 
the Wallachians. The whole southern Slav world was on 
fire, and Nicholas, true to his convictions, felt himself com- 
pelled to quench the flames. He interfered or intervened 
on every side, conscious of his power and of his role as the 
upholder of order. 

New causes for conflict with Turkej' were constantly 
cropping up. In 1853 relations became strained over the 
question of the Holy Places, and Russia's objection to certain 
privileges which had been granted to France as the protector 
of the Latin Christians was to be made the pretext for hasten- 
ing the demise of the " Sick Man," as Nicholas called Turke3^ 
This, however, was by no means an e&sj matter in view of the 
growing opposition of the Western PoAvers to the increasing 
authority which Nicholas was exercising in Europe. Accord- 
ing to the words of Prince Albert, " The Emperor Nicholas 
is the master of Europe, Austria a tool, Prussia a dupe, France 
nothing, and England less than nothing." A storm was gather- 
ing all over Europe against this self-constituted dictatorship 
by the Autocrat of All the Russias, and it needed Httle to 
bring matters to a crisis. 

Prince Mentchikov was sent to Constantinople, ostensibly 
to settle the point raised with regard to the Holy Places, but 
secretly to arrange for an effective Russian protectorate over 
all the Orthodox Greeks in the Ottoman Empire, in return for 
an offensive and defensive alliance in the case of an attack by 
France. The ostensible cause for Mentchikov's journey was 


settled satisfactorily in conjunction with the other Powers ; 
the secret arrangement, however, leaked out, and Turkey, 
backed up by the ambassadors of the Great Powers, rejected 
Mentchikov's ultimatum on the plea that the acceptance of 
such demands as those made by Russia would compromise the 
" fundamental principles of independence and sovereignty." 

Having failed in his mission, Mentchikov left Stamboul, 
but warned the Porte that this refusal to guarantee the privi- 
leges and rights of Orthodox Christians would compel the 
Russian Government to use other means to secure them. 
The Emperor Nicholas was for immediate action. He broke 
oflP negotiations, and issued a manifesto to his people in 
which he proclaimed the object of the new war to be the 
upholding of the integrity of the rights and privileges of the 
Church : it was to be a kind of crusade — the Cross against 
the Crescent. 

In spite of much advice to the contrary, and of the express 
disapproval of all the Powers, Russian troops under Gor- 
tchakov entered and occupied the Danube principalities. 
Nicholas did not consider this a declaration of war, but only 
a means of bringing pressure to bear on Turkey. 

The Tsar had reckoned on English neutrality, but he 
was mistaken, for England and France considered it time 
to intervene, and were taking steps to prepare for further 
eventualities. War, however, did not break out at once. 
Turkey was not ready for it, and the Tsar was disconcerted 
by the unexpected alliance of England with France. In 
England, also, opinions differed as to the advisability of 
going to war. Napoleon III. was satisfied with having isolated 
Russia, and, in view of the danger of combined action against 
him, Nicholas agreed to arbitration by the Powers. By the 
Protocol of Vienna matters seemed to be settled and war 
staved off for a time, though the vagueness of the Note was 
as satisfactory to Nicholas as it was objectionable to the 

But while these diplomatic pourparlers were being carried 
on, religious feeling was running high in Turkey, where the 
Emperor's manifesto to his people had produced an out- 
burst of fanaticism among the Moslems, and, as Russia had 


not yet evacuated Moldavia, the Sultan, if he wished to 
remain on the throne, seemed to have no other choice but to 
declare war. 

English and French ships entered the Bosphorus, but after 
the Turkish fleet had been defeated at Sinope the allied fleet 
entered the Black Sea in order to prevent further aggressions 
by Russia. Napoleon III. made a final attempt to bring 
about an understanding, but failed. On 12th March 1854 
England and France promised their help to the Sultan, and 
a few days later Austria and Prussia signed a convention 
to guarantee each other assistance in case of attack by 

Thus Russia stood absolutely isolated, but the Emperor 
proudly declared in his manifesto that Russians of his day 
were of the same calibre as those of 1812. 

Events followed each other in rapid succession, and on 
27th March 1854 war was declared by France and England 
against Russia. His people were assured by the Emperor 
Nicholas that Russia was not fighting for any temporary 
gain, but for faith and Christianity, while the Western Powers 
had entered this contest merely with the aim of weakening 
the Russian Empire. 

A proof of the Tsar's sincerity of motive in going to war 
is to be found in a private rescript intended for the guidance 
of Count Nesselrode : it is the Emperor's autograph summary 
of the causes which led to the war, and was composed after 
Lord Aberdeen's speech and the decision by England 
to take action against Russia on the sea. He speaks of 
Great Britain's unfriendly attitude, and then proceeds : 
". . . declarant des a present a toutes puissances que, recon- 
naissant I'inutilite des efforts communs pour amener le 
gouvernement turc a des sentiments de justice, et forces a 
une guerre dont Tissue ne peut etre definie, nous restons 
fideles a notre principe deja proclame de renoncer, s'il est 
possible, a toute conquete, mais que nous reconnaissons que 
le moment est venu de retablir I'independance des etats 
Chretiens en Europe tombes depuis des siecles sous le joug 
ottoman. . . . Qu'en prenant I'initiative de cette resolution 
sainte, nous appelons a toutes nations chretiennes pour se 



joindre a nous dans ce but sacre. ..." He expressed his 
desire to bring about the full independence of all the vSlavs 
of the Balkan states and of the region of the Danube, 
each of the nations to be governed by " un homme de son 
choix, elu par eux-memes et pris parmi leurs nations. ..." 

He honestly believed that this appeal 
would win response from all Christendom, 
and could not conceive the possibility of any 
Power joining with Turkey to fight against 
Christians; but his optimism was doomed to 

Thus began the Crimean War, the best- 
known incidents of which were the bombard- 
ment of Odessa and Sveaborg and the 
blockade of the Gulf of Finland, the battles 
of Alma, Balaklava, and Inkerman, and the 
siege of Sevastopol. In addition to the 
horrors of sanguinary warfare and the terrible 
losses sustained in the sieges, much suffering 
was caused by the rigour of the winter and 
by the devastations of cholera ; but while 
human lives were being laid down with the 
utmost bravery on both sides, diplomacy was 
beginning to do its part. 

The Russian nation began to grow restless, 
the people were perplexed at the forces of 
their country being kept in check by foreign 
troops ; and the terrific loss of life, the 
absence of victories, and the prolongation 
of the war all worked together to create a 
general feeling of desperation. Everyone 
turned against the Emperor, who suffered 
intensely but would not listen to peace proposals, as from his 
point of view it would have been treason to give up a cause 
which was as sacred to himself as to his people. 

In spite of trouble and worry he worked as earnestly as 
ever, from early morning tUl late at night, at the business of 
the State. A serious chill, caught at a military review, 
brought on pneumonia, from which he never recovered. He 



refused to take care of himself, and died as he had lived — a 
soldier at his post. In his last message to his people he once 
again solemnly declared that he had undertaken the war 
from unselfish motives, and purely with the purpose of effect- 
ing the deliverance of the Greek Orthodox Christians. 

The earnest and lifelong desire of the Emperor with regard 
to his country found expression in a letter to his wife : " Que 
la Russie soit forte, heureuse et prospere " — that was all he 
cared for. It must therefore have been to him a sore grief 
to leave his beloved country far from strong, happy, or 



Nicholas I. left to his heir a legacy of sorrow. " I leave 
you much labour and worry . . . the burden will be heavy " 
were some of his last words to his son. 

The new Emperor, however, was exceptionally well 
prepared to take upon his shoulders the arduous duties of 
sovereignty, and he met with nothing but trust and confidence 
when he came to the throne, for his nature and outlook on 
life were known to be both generous and liberal. 

Everybody anticipated that the long political winter 
would at last be followed by spring ; the earnest for this 
assurance lay in the character of Alexander II., and in the 
fact that he had been educated by the humane and noble- 
minded poet Joukovski. 

The Emperor Nicholas had realised the severe handicap 
which a purely military education had been to him as sove- 
reign ; and therefore, in 1818, when his eldest son was born, 
although he had no anticipation of becoming Emperor him- 
self, he decided to give his son the best possible education and 
to put him under the guidance of men of integrity and intellect. 
In these ideas he was at one with his charming and beautiful 
wife, with whom at that time he lived in perfect accord. 

Thus, born of loving parents and reared in an atmosphere 
of harmony, it is not to be wondered at that the young Grand 
Duke had such a sunny and kindly nature, and was such 
excellent material for the honest and earnest man whom his 
parents had chosen as his tutor to work upon. Rarely has 
any prince had a better chance of reaching the ideal expressed 
by his future tutor in a poem written to celebrate his birth, 
namely, that of becoming a man on the throne. 



On liis appointment to the position of tutor to the Grand 
Duke, Joukovski paid a visit to the great pedagogue Pesta- 
lozzi, in order to fit himself j'^et more thoroughly for the 
responsible task entrusted to him. He also drew up a " plan 
of education " which he submitted to the august father of 
his pupil, and which was accepted almost in its entirety. 
Joukovski's idea for his pupil was not that he should become 
a great scholar, but that in the truest sense he should be 
educated and taught to know and realise his responsibilities. 
Knowledge was to be coupled with discipline. He aimed at 
impressing it upon his pupil's mind that there could be no 
real liberty without order and no true order -without liberty. 
As a means to this end, a knowledge of history, viewed from 
the standpoint of religion, would, it was hoped, develop in 
the boy's heart a love for all that was great and true, and call 
forth respect for humanity, thus creating a desire to gain 
renown for noble deeds only. 

Noble motives and high ideals were in this manner 
brought before Alexander, and the future ruler learned in 
early life to respect law and education, to love liberty, and 
to be true to his word. He was taught that a ruler's great- 
ness did not consist in the strength of his army, but in the 
well-being of his subjects, who were his to love and honour, 
and over whom he was to rule not by arbitrary but by 
legal methods. 

The Grand Duke's instructors were all chosen with a view 
to the carrying out of this " plan of education." 

As Alexander grew older he had to spend a good deal of his 
time in military training, but this did not mean that the general 
course of instruction was neglected. For a year and a half 
Count Speranski lectured to him on legislation, a branch of 
learning in which the Emperor Nicholas felt himself especially 
deficient. This noble-minded legislator taught his pupil that 
a right is such only so long as it rests upon truth, but that as 
soon as untruth takes the place of truth it becomes arbitrary 
and loses its value. The history of Russia's foreign policy 
in the past was taught to Alexander by Baron Brunnow, 
who, a firm believer in the principles of the Holy Alliance, 
gave to the future monarch a strong bias in this direction. It 


was the Finance Minister Cancrin who introduced the Grand 
Duke to the intricacies of finance. 

Alexander was sent to travel both at home and abroad, 
and in the course of time he visited practically every part of 
his father's vast dominions. This gave him some idea of the 
difficulties he would have to encounter in ruling over an Empire 
made up of such a multiplicity of tribes and nations, with their 
different levels of culture and variety of customs. 

On his visit to Siberia in 1837 he came into contact with 
several of the exiled Decembrists, on whose behalf he then 
pleaded with his father, and his intercession was not alto- 
gether in vain. Amongst others for whom he procured better 
conditions were Tourgeniev, whose term of imprisonment 
was shortened, and Alexander Herzen, who was permitted to 
exchange for Vladimir his place of exile in the distant province 
of Vyatka. 

On his coming of age the Grand Duke was appointed 
Hetman of all the Cossacks, and two years later he was made 
Chancellor of the University of Helsingfors. Thus, in his 
youth, humanitarian, military, and intellectual interests were 
brought well within his range. 

By his modest, genial, and kindly demeanour Alexander 
soon won the hearts of everybody, and in Finland especially 
his gracious manner did a great deal to break down the wall 
of distrust which had been growing up during the stern rule 
of his father. 1 In the year 1849 the Emperor made him 
chief over all the military schools, in which capacity he 
was brought once more into contact with the youth of the 

The Tsarevitch had a great deal of insight, and soon per- 
ceived where abuses had crept into the administration of the 
country, and he took the most lively interest in all suggestions 
for reform. All his interests were shared by his charming 
wife, Maria Alexandrovna of Hesse-Darmstadt. 

Though introduced to every sphere of government, he 

was not permitted to take any active part in politics. When, 

however, the Emperor Nicholas travelled abroad, he entrusted 

his son with the affairs of State, and in 1845 Alexander 

' See Chapter XXVI., " Finland and her relation to the Tsars." 


received the order of St Vladimir in recognition of his services 
in this respect. In the letter accompanying this order his 
father drew his attention to its motto, " Usefulness, honour, 
and glory," which he was to make his own in that station of 
life to which it had pleased God to call him. 

When the heavy burden of rulership was laid upon the 
shoulders of Alexander II, it soon became apparent that he 
had been well prepared to carry it with honour. At the first 
meeting of the Imperial Council which he attended after his 
father's death he reminded its members that as occupiers 
of the highest position of trust in the Empire they should 
never forget that it was their duty to set the nation an example 
of " reasonableness, industry, and honesty," 

Alexander's first actions as Emperor were in tune with 
his frankly admitted predilection for rewarding instead of 
punishing, for praising instead of reproaching. He granted an 
amnesty to the Polish refugees,^ permitting them to return 
home, and even promising them re-entrance into State service 
after a period of three years. He also delivered the nation 
from the tyranny of the censors. 

In every sphere of life and in every department of the 
State corruption was rife. The nation was suffering from 
many grievous ills, and hearts were heavy with sorrow. In a 
letter written in 1855, Aksakov says : " Ah ! how hard is 
life in Russia in the present day ! . . . What can one expect 
from a country which has produced, and which stiU endures, 
such conditions of public life ; where one must lie in order 
to convey the truth ; where one has to act illegally to act 
justly ; and where it is obligatory to wade through the whole 
procedure of deceit and rascality to come out at last to 
legality? ..." 

But before these problems could be grappled with, the 
war had to be brought to an end ; and although the Emperor 
was a man of peace, he could not consent to peace without 
honour. However, thirteen days after his accession the 
tentative pourparlers begun in the last reign culminated in 
a Conference in Vienna, to which Alexander, contrary to 
the wish of the Foreign Minister, Nesselrode, sent Prince 
1 See Chapter XXV., " Poland," 


Gortchakov as Russia's plenipotentiary. The Conference, 
however, proved abortive, and the Emperor, who gave 
orders for a much more general mobilisation, personally 
visited the theatre of war in order to convince himself of how 
matters stood. It was evident that Russia required an in- 
creased army, for, apart from having to contend against 
the allied forces, her troops were trying in vain to subdue 
the intrepid Shamyl in the Caucasus. 

The whole country was in a sore plight, and on 5th 
September 1855, in spite of the great bravery of the soldiers, 
Sevastopol fell after having withstood a siege of three hundred 
and forty-nine days. 

Yet after the fall of Sevastopol the war still dragged on 
for another five months. Meanwhile diplomacy was doing 
its part to bring about a settlement of the war. The Russian 
success in taking Kars served as a salve to national soreness 
over the fall of Sevastopol. It also hurried on the peace, 
which was signed in February 1856. The conditions which 
Russia was forced to accept were both humiliating and 
galling. She lost her cherished right to the exclusive pro- 
tectorate of the Greek Orthodox Christians, who were now 
to be under the united protection of the Concert of Europe, 
into which Turkey was adnlitted. Russia also lost her 
sovereignty over the Black Sea, which was declared neutral 
water. No naval bases were to be erected on its shores, nor 
was Russia to be permitted to build a navy on this sea. Both 
Turkey and she were limited to ten lightships. She had 
also to surrender the Danube estuary and some land on the 
Euxine, and the fortress of Kars. 

It is small wonder that relations between Russia and 
Great Britain, Austria, and the Porte especially, remained 
strained. With France and Sardinia, however, they quickly 
became amicable ; but no alliance was concluded, for Alex- 
ander II., reared in the political traditions of the Holy Alliance, 
considered Napoleon III. a representative of that European 
radicalism which he had been taught to abhor. On the other 
hand, this political conviction drew him into a closer union 
with Prussia, whose ruler shared these views. 

The whole nation hailed the proclamation of peace with 


relief. The manifesto announcing this fact had a twofold 
effect : it not only delivered the nation from the actual 
misery of a state of war, but in its concluding words, herald- 
ing the new era, it held out the prospect of domestic welfare, 
of a reign of justice and mercy, of the development and 
furtherance of education, and of all other useful activities. 
It was also foreshadowed that in the law courts for the future 
the law would offer the same protection to all, and that before 
it aU men would be equal. In the approaching period of 
peace the fruits of innocent labour were to be enjoyed. 

The manifesto ended with these solemn words : " Finally, 
and this is our primary and most livelj'' desire, that the light 
of a saving faith, enlightening the mind and rendering the 
heart firm, may guard and improve more and more public 
morality, which alone is the pledge for order and happiness." 
It was these words, intimating as they did the vital reforms 
needed by the country, which raised the hopes of the people. 
The nation was now on the eve of great reforms ; time, 
however, proved that several years were to pass before these 
anticipations were fully realised. 

The results of this humiliating and disastrous peace were 
destined temporarily to eliminate Russia from participation 
m international political activity. The commanding position 
she had occupied in the earlier years of Nicholas I.'s reign 
had been lost ; but this compulsory inactivity the Emperor 
and his Chancellor purposed to put to the best possible use. 
Gortchakov's famous statement with regard to Russia's 
sUence in the Concert of Europe tersely expressed the truth : 
" La Russie ne boude pas ; eUe se recueille." She was not 
sulking — far from it : she was in reality " collecting herself." 
She had come to her senses. 

The evils which had become manifest demanded immediate 
attention, and of this the Emperor was fuUy convinced. He 
wrote under a ministerial report presented to him at the end 
of his first year's reign : "I have read this report with great 
interest and gratitude, especially with regard to the frank 
exposition of all those abuses ; with the help of God and by 
general and united effort, I hope to see these righted with 
every year." 


With the accession of Alexander II. the coldness of the 
long Arctic winter which had reigned for the last thirty years 
was dispelled, and the mild air of approaching spring began 
to make itself felt. The Crimean War was acting like the 
" Fohn " wind, which, howling and whistling, blows over the 
snow-clad heights, but brings spring to the valleys and uplands 
— the sUence of winter is replaced by the sounds of life. So 
it was now with the Russian nation. 

One of the first beneficent measures introduced by the 
Tsar was the abrogation of the strict censorship which, like 
a thick crust of ice, had kept imprisoned the expression of 
thought. Delivered from this restraint, pent-up feelings burst 
forth, bubbling over, and a discussion of foreign and domestic 
policy became possible — public opinion, fears and hopes could 
all now be expressed. The output of literature, especially of 
newspapers and periodicals, increased by leaps and bounds. 
Whereas, during the last decade, only six newspapers and 
nineteen periodicals — and these mostly devoted to special 
interests such as children, fashion, medical science, etc. — 
had been permitted to exist, the numbers grew to sixty-six 
newspapers and one hundred and fifty-six periodicals within 
the next few years. It was because the Emperor himself 
was so absolutely convinced of the necessity for reform, that 
a public expression of the same was something to which he 
could not, nor even wished to, object. 

Emancipation was in the air — Russian society had begun 
to realise the horror and the evils, social as well as moral, 
inherent in any system of slavery. Literature had done a 
great share of the work of opening the eyes of the public : 
Gogol's Dead Souls and Tourgeniev's A Sportsman's Notebook 
had shown up life as it was in the provinces. The poet 
Nekrasov acquainted his readers, not only with the suffering, 
but also with the charm of the Russian peasant. Ostrovski, 
in his plays, brought before the footlights the habits and 
customs of the Muscovite merchant class, so ignorant and 
as yet so bound by Tatar traditions. Gontcharov, in his 
Oblomov, depicted the baneful effect of serfdom on the wealthier 
classes — the lack of energy, the good intentions dwindling 
away to nothing because of the enervating influences which 


surrounded the serf-owners. These great writers were reahsts 
who, with powerful strokes, painted life as it was ; pitilessly 
they forced society to look at its own distorted face, and to 
see in its unwholesome countenance the signs of disorder which 
had attacked its very vitals. 

The severity of the censorship and theiron rule of Nicholas I. 
had silenced all expression of political aspirations and ideals ; 
only under the lighter form of fiction these masters of literature 
had been able to pubUsh not a few home- truths. But now 
publicists, journalists, aU alike, were free to write on the 
burning questions of the day with a heart on fire with love 
for their country. The History of the Peasants in Russia, 
by the Slavophile Bylaev, articles in the Russian Contemporary 
and others, advocated in eloquent language the liberation 
of the serfs. In a foreign land the great genius of the exile 
Alexander Herzen was expending itself on behalf of freedom ; 
and his journal The Bell, published in London, was smuggled 
into Russia, where it had a large circle of readers, including 
even the Emperor himself. 

For the voiceless millions of Russia who had been held 
down in the iron grip of class selfishness the hour of liberation 
was dawning. The birthright of man, liberty, could not be 
held back from the peasant for ever, and the fall of Sevastopol 
drew after it the fall of that apparently impregnable fortress 
— serfdom. 

Leroy-Beaulieu contends that the foreign armies on 
Russian soil were unwittingly battering and ramming against 
the stronghold of Russia's enslavement ; that, unknown to 
themselves, they were actually working for the liberation of 
the peasant. He considers Russia all the better for her 
defeat : " Jamais un pays n'a, peut-etre, achete aussi bon 
marche sa regeneration nationale. D'une guerre dont Tissue 
ne couta que des sacrifices de son amour-propre, d'une paix 
dont les clauses humiliantes ont ete profondement effacees, 
U ne lui reste qu'une durable transformation interieure." 

The Emperor and his new political adviser, Gortchakov, 
who had succeeded Nesselrode, realised the necessity for this 
domestic regeneration, and that the very fact of Russia being 
put hors de combat politically might — nay, should — be a means 

.^^ 1 



•^ ,*• 

1 t 


of blessing to the nation, which was bleeding from many 
wounds. To heal these was the care of Alexander II. The 
difficulty, however, was to know how to set about the work, 
and whom to entrust with the task of drawing up the neces- 
sary schemes required for the reorganisation of the various 
departments of governmental and national life. 

It was especially with regard to this matter that the 
Emperor found himself in rather an awkward position, as 
practically all the ministers were conscientious supporters 
of the former regime, and some of them were his late father's 
personal friends. It was therefore impossible to change the 
personnel at once. Alexander had, however, staunch friends 
in his wife, in his younger brother Constantine and in his 
aunt the Grand Duchess Helena Pavlovna. The latter's 
luminous personality and intellectual capacity, as well as her 
keen interest in the promotion of all social and intellectual 
weKare, had drawn into her circle the best minds, and it was 
from amongst their midst that the new fellow-workers for the 
reform were to come forth. 

Only gradually the personnel of the ministry was changed 
and men in full sympathy with the Emperor's humane and 
liberal views were appointed. It was especially in the new 
Minister of the Interior, Lanskoi, a man of great rectitude 
and free from class prejudice, that Alexander found a valu- 
able adviser and a whole-hearted supporter of his generous 
schemes. Lanskoi urged it upon his sovereign that such a vital 
change as the contemplated abolition of serfdom should not 
be introduced too suddenly ; but that, having once begun, 
there should be no drawing back. He pleaded with his 
Imperial master to proceed carefully but persistently, and 
not to let himself be unduly influenced either by the ardent 
lovers of innovations or by the obstinate worshippers of the 
old traditions. 

The Emperor had refused to be crowned whilst his country 
was still in the throes of war ; but after the declaration of 
peace this solemn event had been fixed for the middle of 
August 1856. In the meantime the Emperor, accompanied 
by his brothers, visited Finland, where all hearts beat warmly 
for him, and where he received an enthusiastic welcome. The 


motto over the triumphal arch at Abo expressed the hope of 
the nation : " CoUectasque fugat nubes solemque reducit " 
C He puts to flight the gathered clouds and brings back 
the sun "). 

In May, accompanied by his ministers, he paid an official 
visit to Poland, where he spent six days. He granted an 
amnesty to certain political offenders, and also warmly ex- 
pressed his thanks to the nation for their bravery in war, and 
his gratitude for the gallant lives given on behalf of the Empire. 
In his address to the Estates, and afterwards to the repre- 
sentatives of society who had arranged the brilliant reception 
and the State ball given in his honour, he told them plainly 
what his attitude and feelings were towards their nation. He 
frankly told them that he was willing to let bygones be bygones ; 
that he had the most generous intentions towards them ; 
but that first of all their mutual relationship had to be clearly 
defined. He wanted order as established by his father : 
" What my father did was good, and I will uphold it . . . 
therefore, gentlemen, no vain dreams ! " {point de reveries !) ; 
for " the happiness of Poland depends on a perfect fusion 
with the other peoples of the Empire." Those who would 
persist in separatist dreams he would know how to restrain. 
He told them that although he preferred to praise and to 
reward, to raise hope and to call forth gratitude, yet " if 
necessary, I can punish, and that severely." 

The Baltic provinces were also honoured by a visit from 
the monarch : thus the three Western border countries, 
acquired by his immediate ancestors, had been personally 
assured of the Emperor's goodwill. 

When, therefore, the coronation took place in the ancient 
capital, a happy and united nation hailed in Alexander II. 
the harbinger of peace and prosperity. The prayer offered 
by the Emperor at this ceremony expressed his consciousness 
of the greatness of the task before him : " Lord Almighty ! 
do not forsake me in my work — teach and guide me in my great 
service. . . Let my heart be in Thy hands so that all shall 
be done for the benefit of those entrusted to me, and to Thy 
glory. ..." While the people on their part prayed for him : 
" That Thy servant our well-meaning sovereign, who has 


quieted our anxious hearts, raay be endowed with wisdom. 
Grant that he may be enabled to carry out this service, make 
his heart tender towards the poor and the needy . . . and grant 
that the power he will entrust to others may not be wielded 
in hypocritical pretence of justice. . . ." 

It was a brilliant gathering. Not only foreign Powers 
had sent their representatives, but also the multitudes of 
tribes and people ruled over by the Tsar of All the Russias, 
who appeared in their picturesque costumes. His title 
seemed to acquire reality in face of the various nationalities 
which thronged Moscow. 

When the Emperor, looking pale and wearied after the 
long ceremonial of the coronation, the heavy crown on his 
head, showed himself to the eager multitudes, it was a wonder- 
ful moment, full of deep significance and symbolical of the 
future. The delight was the people's, the burden his ! 

In honour of this momentous occasion he proclaimed an 
amnesty to all the Decembrists punished in 1825, and to 
their children he restored their fathers' titles ; the political 
offenders of 1848, the friends of Petrashevski, were, however, 
not included in this amnesty. The Tsar also remitted twenty- 
four million roubles of overdue taxes, and abolished the hated 
military colonies, etc. The rejoicing in Moscow was un- 
bounded, and the resolution of the Tsar, as expressed by him 
in the simple but pregnant words, " To change, to pardon, 
and to restore," were on every tongue. A special medal was 
struck as a reward to the brave defenders of Sevastopol, and 
the text engraved on it was expressive of the Emperor's 
feelings : " On Thee, Lord, do we trust ; let us never be 

The new era now actually set in, and when, in 1857, the 
Emperor explained to the assembled marshals of the nobility 
his firm intention to abolish serfdom, the die was cast. He 
invited the leaders of the privileged class, who were his 
natural helpers, to co-operate with him in this great work. 
In his address to them he said, among other things : "As 
you yourselves know, the existing manner of possessing serfs 
cannot remain unchanged. It is better to abolish serfdom 
from above, than to await the time when it will begin to 



abolish itself from below. I request you, gentlemen, to 
consider how this can be put into execution, and to submit 
my words to the nobles for their consideration." 

In the course of years everybody had come to see and 
feel tlie necessity of liberating the serfs : men of all shades 
of political opinion agreed on this point — they differed merely 
on the best methods of doing it — all the best elements in 
society co-operated in preparing for this reform. What a 
change from the time of Peter the Great ! His successor 
in the great work of reforming the nation did not stand alone ; 
Alexander II. was able to surround himself with men ready 
and anxious to support him in his great scheme for the 
amelioration of the people. 

His was no easy task. Although individuals had on 
various occasions experimented in this field of research : for 
example, the Grand Duchess Helena Pavlovna and Count Leo 
Tolstoi, who did something in this line when only nineteen 
years of age, and others, it was still a great problem how to 
change absolutely a condition upon which the economic exist- 
ence of the wealthy classes of society had hitherto depended. 

Among the peasants, too, the feeling was rife that the 
hour of their liberation was drawing nigh. Every time a 
new ruler ascended the throne the expectation and hope of 
the serfs had risen, only to be cruelly dashed to the ground. 
According to the census of 1853, out of the sixty million 
inhabitants of Russia, forty millions lacked the greatest of 
human rights — liberty. 

The problem of serfdom had not been overlooked by the 
rulers since Catherine the Great had made it the great subject 
of discussion in the " Free Economic Society." In 1797 her 
son, Paul I., had issued a ukase fixing the time limit of service, 
for until then there had been no established rule with regard 
to the number of the days in the week masters could legally 
employ their serfs. The new law fixed it to three days, thus 
enabling the peasants to work three days for themselves and 
so get means to pay taxes. The nobles, however, were 
exempt from taxation. 

In 1803, Catherine's grandson, Alexander I., had made it 
illegal to sell or to give away serfs apart from the land. He 


also made it possible for whole families, even whole villages, 
to become free if a voluntary arrangement between master 
and serfs could be arrived at. Although the intentions that 
prompted this law were good, yet it had very little prac- 
tical effect, and in 1835 there were only one hundred and 
sixteen thousand such " free agriculturists." 

In the Baltic provinces serfdom had been abolished 
between the years 1816 and 1819, and four hundred thousand 
serfs were set free ; but they were only given personal liberty, 
without any land. Under the Emperor Nicholas I. the 
" Secret Commission " worked hard at this problem, studying 
it in all its bearings, and by 1834 Count Speranski had arrived 
at a definite conclusion as to what legally constituted serf- 
dom. According to him, as it then stood it was based on an 
hereditary and mutual responsibility between peasants and 
proprietors. It was the duty of the peasant to expend one- 
half of his working powers on behalf of the owner ; and it was 
the duty of the owner to allot to the peasant such portion 
of land as would enable him, by the expenditure of the other 
half of his working powers, to provide for the need of his 
family and for the payment of his taxes. It was manifest 
that the owner had no legal claim on the person of the serf, 
but only on his labour, and even this within a fixed time limit. 
Consequently, the personal enslavement of the peasant was 
the result, not the cause, of the compulsory labour. 

In 1842 it was suggested in the rescript " On the Duties 
of Peasants " that as the land was fully owned by the pro- 
prietor, and the serf had only the usufruct of the part allotted 
to him, a modus vivendi might be arrived at whereby peasants 
might become owners of land, without, however, being 
granted personal liberty. But it was precisely on this point 
of ownership of land that the peasants and the nobility held 
diametrically opposed views. The people had a deeply 
rooted conviction that the land belonged to them, under the 
primary ownership of the Tsar ; and that the nobles had been 
granted lands merely in reward for services rendered to the 
State. The peasant considered his person the absolute 
property of the landowner, but the land was his own : " Wo 
are yours," they would say, " but the land is ours." 


In spite of all the evils of serfdom, there existed a certain 
solidarity of interests between the landowner and the peasant ; 
for the economic welfare of the one depended more or less 
upon that of the other. Also, the personal safety of the serf 
was looked after by the owner, who, although perhaps most 
arbitrary in his own treatment of this human chattel, resented 
the same ill-treatment meted out to it by others. 

The whole system, however, was wrong, and led to nothing 
but moral and social degradation. 

Serfdom, everywhere an evil, was especially out of place 
in Russia, where it was not the result of foreign conquest in 
the early dawn of the nation's history, but had been brought 
about for selfish reasons l^y the usurper Boris Godounov at 
the end of the sixteenth century. It is little to be wondered 
at that again and again, during the centuries which followed, 
the peasants fell under the delusion that the hour of their 
liberation from the galling yoke of bondage had struck. It 
was not liberty in the abstract which the millions of serfs 
were sighing for, but an efifective amelioration of their lot — 
the deliverance from the arbitrary power of their owners by 
means of legal guarantees, and to have the right to change 
their occupation or to choose a new one at will. 

It is to the credit of Alexander II. that it was due to his 
initiative that the emancipation of the serfs was actually 
brought about. He fully realised the tremendous obstacles 
which he would have to overcome : he knew that the nobility 
would not agree without a struggle to be deprived of free 
labour, therefore, to quote the Emperor's own words : " The 
autocratic power has created serfdom, and the autocratic 
power ought to abolish it." 

But the Emperor wanted to give the aristocracy the 
privilege of sharing with him in this great work which he had 
decided to carry out. He therefore invited provincial assem- 
blies of the nobility to assist him, and a willing response 
came from the cradle of ancient Russia, from Kiev, Volhynia, 
Podolia ; St Petersburg, Nijni-Novgorod, and Orel were also 
eager to do their share. Moscow, however, the heart of 
Russia, was one of the last of the provinces to come into line 
with the Emperor's proposal. 



A Central Committee " for the amelioration of the lot of 
the peasant " was created in 1857 to deal with the problem, 
which simply bristled with difficulties. 

Alexander II. was whole-heartedly supported by Lanskoi, 
then Minister of the Interior, but it was his colleague Milyutin 
who became the very soul of this great reform. Lanskoi 
had much difficulty in persuading the Emperor to let 
Milyutin be his assistant, as the latter was noted for his 
liberal views. In 
fact, he had been 
accused of radical 
tendencies, but his 
moral integrity and 
administrative effi- 
ciency finally bore 
down Alexander's 
antagonism. Mily- 
utin was, however, 
only given a tempor- 
ary appointment; 
but as the years went 
on and he still re- 
tained his " tempor- 
ary " position, he 
earned the nickname 
of the " temporary- 
permanent." It was said of Milyutin that " he struck while 
the iron was hot " ; but it might be said of him with equal 
truth that he patiently and persistently sawed through the 
iron link in order to break the chain by which the people he 
loved so dearly were held in bondage. 

Milyutin was the nephew of the generous-minded Count 
Kisselev, that official who had been instrumental in amelior- 
ating the lot of the Crown peasants. His family had for 
centuries been renowned for true nobility of heart and for a 
love of enlightenment ; from early days he had studied and 
taken a great interest in the social, political, and economical 
question. The assistant minister therefore was eminently 
fitted for the task set before him. 

Bowl of the Tsar Alexei Mikhailovitch 


The work accomplished by the Provincial Committeea 
fell far short of the Emperor's expectations. To begin with, 
they did not know on what principles the Government intended 
to base the reform, and they were unable to invent them ; and 
the many opponents of the reform hoped that the whole 
scheme would fall through as it had done in other reigns. 
But they did not take into account the iron determination 
of the Emperor to see the thing through. " The question 
of the peasants is ever present with me," he remarked to 
Count Kisselev, who wrote afterwards : " The Emperor is 
quite decided to carry out the liberation of the serfs ; but he is 
being hindered and harassed on all sides, and the dangers and 
difficulties of the undertaking are always being pointed out 
to him." 

Indeed, the members of the Committees were terribly 
divided in opinion, and the few sympathisers of the meditated 
reform were outnumbered by the supporters of " landlordism." 
The crucial point was the way in which a settlement was to 
be arrived at. For centuries the economic life of the land 
had been based on serfdom, and the people were accounted 
rich according to the number of " souls " they owned. To 
be very rich, for example, one had to possess more than ten 
thousand " souls." 

The greatness of the difficulty may be judged from the 
fact that one hundred and twenty-seven thousand owners of 
land and twenty-three million serfs had to be dealt with in 
the proposed scheme of reform. The market value of serf 
labour varied according to locality, and the bank rate for 
" mortgage " was £6 per man, though the actual value was 
from £17 to £20. In 1859, six hundred thousand peasants 
were found to be " mortgaged." 

No difficulty was anticipated in dealing with one and a 
half million domestic serfs, who would naturally be granted 
only personal liberty, which meant that their services in future 
would be paid for. The real difficulty lay in the provision 
to be made for agrarian serfs, as the old idea of granting per- 
sonal liberty without giving any land had been discarded as 

Forty-six Provincial Committees sat for eighteen months, 


and one thousand one hundred and thirty-six landowners 
worked strenuously ; but in the meanwhile the Emperor 
had entrusted the definite drawing up of the reform to a 
Special Commission, the members of which had been selected 
in order to create a majority so as to ensure the passage of 
those clauses which were offensive to the opponents of this 
reform. By this action the work of the Provincial Committees 
had become a mere sham, and feelings were deeply hurt. The 
Special Commission consisted of members of the bureaucracy 
and a few representatives of the landed interest. There were 
also amongst its members such strenuous opposers of the 
measure as Counts Panin and Orlov ; while amongst its 
advocates were the ardent Slavophiles Samarin and Prince 
Tcherkasski, and others ; but the moving spirit of it all 
was Milyutin. The Grand Duke Constantine, who put 
his whole soul into the work, filled admirably the difficult 
position of chairman, for even in this select body feeling 
ran high. 

Apart from the opposition, there was a vital difference of 
opinion as to the lines along which the new reforms were 
to be worked out. Those who were called " Zapadniki " or 
" Westerners " wished to take Western, and particularly 
English, institutions as their model, while the Slavophiles 
desired to evolve a scheme on purely national lines. In the 
ultimate working out of the scheme for the abolition of serfdom 
the views of the Slavophiles won the day, while the Westerners 
had their turn when it came to the elaboration of the legis- 
lative and juridical reforms consequent on this great economic 

The working out, however, of the far-reaching measure 
took much longer to elaborate than was at first anticipated, 
and various other reforms, such as of the army, of the navy, 
and of education, were accomplished before this scheme could 
be put into practice. The educational reforms made rapid 
strides, for the Emperor believed in them : the restriction 
on the number of students at the universities was removed, 
scholarships were founded, and many schools established ; 
in 1857 the first gymnasia for girls were opened, and women 
were also permitted to study medicine. It was the need 


for nursrs in the Crimean War which helped on the medical 
education of women. 

The Emperor willingly listened to suggestions made to 
him from various sources with regard to reform ; a movement 
towards political representation began now to make itself felt 
and each school of thought evolved its own scheme. 

In the Provincial Committees, which had been constituted 
to consider the best ways of arriving at a satisfactory solution 
of the agrarian problem, many other points with regard to 
the form of government were naturally discussed, and the 
struggle between the bureaucracy and the nobility was often 
very keen. The latter demanded an effectual control over 
the former, and also advocated publicity as against secrecy. 
During past years, when all political activity had been pre- 
vented, many theories had developed which the doctrinaires 
now desired to put into practice. 

With regard to the great reform under discussion — the 
abolition of serfdom — all parties, however, finally accepted 
the strongly pronounced will of the monarch and worked 
together for its fulfilment. But many of those who objected 
to the measure on principle, being convinced that it would 
merely lead to a democratic revolution, tried to influence 
the trend of the reform for their personal interest. Another 
party represented merely class interest, and was desirous 
of creating a landed aristocracy such as exists in England. 
There was, however, an increasing number of landowners 
who fuUy and whole-heartedly supported the Government 
programme. While the scheme for the abolition of serfdom 
was carefully threshed out by these various Committees and 
Commissions, the general welfare of the nation and its 
economic prosperity were rapidly improving. 

Politically, also, Russia was again taking her place amongst 
the great Powers : she intervened in the affairs of WaUachia, 
Moldavia, and Montenegro ; and her influence in the Near 
East reassumed its former weight. On the eastern confines 
of the Empire, along the Amur and Ussuri and in Manchuria, 
its borders were being extended and the port of Nicholaevsk 
built : thus Russian influence became paramount in Northern 
Asia. Commercial treaties were made with China and Japan, 


and the latter opened many of her ports to Russian vessels. 
In Siberia the mineral wealth was tapped and economic and 
commercial undertakings were developed. 

In 1859 the Caucasus was finally conquered and Shamyl 
forced to surrender. The famous mountain chief, as a valiant 
foe, was accorded a good reception in the capital, and a few 
years later he took the oath of allegiance to the Tsar. 

On the Black Sea the harbour of Odessa was built and 
Baku gained in importance. On the Baltic, Riga, Libau, 
and Kronstadt were made into first-class harbours. To 
further commerce a new system of canalisation was planned 
by which the Amur was to be linked with Lake Baikal and 
the Black Sea with the Caspian ; while in Finland the Saima- 
kanal, between the Gulf of Bothnia and the Saima Lake, was 

In 1857 a commercial treaty was concluded with England, 
and the Emperor also abolished nearly all import duties. 
Thus the economic conditions of the nation were recuperating 
after the terrible illness to which the Crimean War might be 

During the years which had elapsed between 1857, when 
the Emperor made his first public intimation with reference to 
the proposed reform, and the year 1861, it had formed the 
chief topic of conversation in every circle of society, and had 
been threshed out in all its bearings by the Press. The whole 
atmosphere was impregnated with the spirit of hope and 



The Emperor had taken the initiative for the reform, and 
he now led the nation towards the goal he had indicated in 
his manifesto at the conclusion of the war. 

By the year 1861 the solution of the difficult problem of 
granting liberty and land to the serfs without ruining their 
owners had been settled. A compromise was arrived at 
whereby the proprietors were to be indemnified for the land 
retained by the peasants. It was decided that every peasant 
was to remain in possession of his hut and the enclosure in 
which it stood ; that the land, however, hitherto worked by 
them for their own benefit, should not become their personal 
possession but should belong collectively to the whole " Mir " 
or village community — for the Slavophiles, who had carried 
the day in the drawing up of the settlement, saw in this ancient 
and primitive form of collective ownership the basis of Russian 
national salvation. Many of the landed proprietors, however, 
saw in it merely legaUsed communism. 

No peasant was to have power to sell his portion of the 
land, which was divided up per capita. Although no longer 
tied to the soil, the peasant was to remain in close union with 
it. While free to work elsewhere, in city or service, he yet 
retained a right to the portion of land allotted to him, which 
might be cultivated by any member of his family. Not a 
landless, homeless proletariat was to result from the great 
reform, but a free and land-owning peasantry. 

The principle was sound, but the reformers soon learned 
by experience that the amount of land set apart for the 
peasants was absolutely inadequate. Indeed, the difficulty 
increased with each generation, and ultimately led to a land 



famine. Thus the agrarian problem was rendered more acute 
by the very body which laboured so earnestly and sincerely 
to find its solution. 

According to the new law the peasants were to buy out 
the land, with the assistance of the State, which was to 
lend the capital, to be repaid by the Mir within forty-nine 
years. The landowners were to be compensated not only for 
the loss of land, but also for the loss of free labour. To arrive 
at the sum total of money which would have to be paid out, 
the value of the land, of the free labour, and of the income 
derived from the Obrok (a direct payment in money made 
by serfs to compensate their owners for not working on the 
land) was capitalised at six per cent. For compensation 
the Obrok was valued at the rate of £3 per man and £1 per 
woman per year. The total value of the cultivated land was 
rated at nearly two milliards of roubles. 

With regard to the domestic serfs conditions were very 
simple. Two years after the promulgation of the law of liberty 
they were to be free to leave their masters' service, but were 
to have no share in the land. The law, however, safeguarded 
old or disabled retainers from being dismissed unprovided 
for. The eighteen odd million peasants of the vast Crown 
lands, who had hitherto paid a small rent for their holdings, 
were now to be left in possession free of charge, and the ex- 
periments which for several years past had been carried out 
on the Crown lands with a view to ameliorating the lot of the 
peasant, such as peasant banks, etc., were now to serve for 
the building up of the new conditions. 

In spite of the bitter opposition of the majority of pro- 
prietors, in spite of numerous obstacles and difficulties, the 
Emperor had never wavered in his intention to liberate the serfs, 
and at last his cherished scheme was fully elaborated for action. 

A member of the Central Committee appointed to draw 
up the reform describes Alexander II. as " a man of love and 
kindness who involuntarily draws the hearts of men to him- 
self." Free from all artificial dignity, but simple, sincere, 
and genuine, the Tsar was at this time a general favourite ; 
the whole nation, in fact, was looking to this one man for the 
irreversible grant of the greatest of national blessings. 


Seven years had elapsed since Alexander's accession to 
the throne had aronsed anticipation in the heart of his lowly 
subjects ; but " hope deferred maketh the heart sick." 
Everywhere a spirit of unrest began to make itself felt, the 
importance of which the opponents of the reform exaggerated 
in the hope of alarming the Emperor and thus restraining him 
from doing all his generous heart had planned. This was 
realised by many influential people, among them the Grand 
Duchess Helena Pavlovna. It had been intimated to her that 
the ferment was increasing, whereupon she wrote to Milyutin : 
" Something must be done by the eighteenth, or there will 
be riots ; and that would be fatal." Fortunately that 
" something " was at hand : the manifesto proclaiming liberty 
to the serfs was already signed by the Emperor. 

His attitude with regard to this matter can best be ex- 
pressed in his words addressed to the Imperial Council on the 
eve of the promulgation of the manifesto, 28th January 1861 : 
" I consider the liberation of the serfs to be the most vital 
of all questions for Russia, and on it will depend her develop- 
ment, strength, and power. I am sure that you are all as 
convinced as I am of the usefulness of the measure about to 
be passed. Approaching this most important affair, I have 
never hidden from myself the difficulties which await us, nor 
do I now ; but I firmly rely on the mercy of God, and, con- 
vinced of the holiness of this work, I feel sure that God will 
not forsake us, but wiU continue to bless us and to prosper 
our undertaking for the future welfare of our beloved Father- 

In preparation for the great event so confidently awaited, 
the publicist Pogodin, himself a former serf, sent out an appeal 
to the nation in The Northern Bee : " People of Russia, go 
down on your knees ! Pray to God and thank Him for the 
happiness beyond compare, for the marvellous experience 
which is awaiting us. . . ." He also suggested that the first 
money earned by free labour should be dedicated to the 
building of a cathedral in honour of St Alexander Nevski, the 
patron saint of Russia. 

All over the capital the manifesto was placarded on the 
walls, and at morning service on Sunday, 5th March 1861, 


it was read aloud from the altar steps of every church. Yet the 
great crowd of serfs gathered to hear the words which opened 
for them the gates of liberty remained apparently unimpressed 
and indifferent — the wording of the manifesto was in too 
official a form and contained too many clauses of conditions 
to convey much, if anything, to them. But at last emotion 
was aroused when the people heard these few simple and 
homely words of the manifesto : " Sign thyself with the sign 
of the Cross and pray that upon thy free labour may fall the 
blessing of God, the earnest of thy domestic welfare." To this 
appeal there was an immediate and heartfelt response. 

Imperial Bowl used by the Tsar (17th Century.) 

On this memorable Sunday Nature herself seemed in tune 
with the rejoicing multitudes who in the afternoon thronged 
the great open space called the " Tsaritsin Polye," where the 
Emperor drove in and out amongst the vast crowds. The 
enthusiasm which the reading of the manifesto had failed 
to produce now burst forth at the sight of their gracious 
benefactor. An enthusiasm genuine and deep, greater in fact 
than ever before had been witnessed in Russia, found vent in 
mighty shouts of " Hurrah ! " "which made the earth tremble." 

The fears of those who had anticipated that the people 
might be given to riot proved unfounded ; the minute police 
and military preparations so carefully made were not required ; 
it was a free and orderly crowd that rejoiced in its liberation. 
All over the country where the manifesto had been read the 
same sober rejoicing had taken place. It seemed as if the 
people were proud to justify the trust reposed in them by 
the " Tsar-Liberator." 


Ten days later a deputation of liberated serfs, a thousand 
men with their wives and children, came before him to express 
their deep-felt gratitude. The address they presented to 
their sovereign contained the following words : " Thou hast 
deigned to make the anniversary of thy autocratic rule the 
day of national liberty, and we all know how much thy loving 
heart has participated in this matter of our liberation. We 
have come to thank thee for civic rights which thou hast 
granted us ; to thank thee for life which thou hast renewed 
to us ; for our present happiness which our grandfathers 
never knew ; and for the future happiness of our children 
and grandchildren. We realise that, having received new 
rights, we are bound to take upon ourselves new responsi- 
bilities, and we promise thee to become worthy of the great 
gifts graciously bestowed upon us by thine Imperial will. We 
pray that under thy beneficent rule our beloved Fatherland 
may increase in glory and might. We pray to God that He 
may prolong thy precious life in order that thou mayest see 
and taste the fruit of thy planting ; and that, surrounded by 
the love of the whole nation, thou mayest long be a witness of 
the happiness of thy liberated people." 

It took some time before the peasants fully realised the 
conditions of their liberation. When the truth began to 
dawn upon them that it was not an immediate or uncon- 
ditional liberty which had been granted them, there was a 
general feeling of disappointment. For a long time they had 
been convinced that their father the Tsar had not only given 
them liberty, but had also turned them into actual proprietors 
of the soil. Many firmly believed that all the conditions which 
had been read out to them were mere interpolations by the 
officials, for their faith and trust in their father the Tsar 
was implicit. 

In May 1861, Alexander II. visited Moscow, where a 
deputation of ten thousand liberated serfs presented him with 
" bread and salt," and also with a loyal address. The spokes- 
man, an old peasant of nearly seventy years of age, made a 
homely speech in which he said that words failed him to 
express the joy and gratitude that welled up in his heart at 
the thought of their Little Father the Tsar's abundant mercy. 


The Emperor walked in and out amongst the crowd, the 
people falling upon their knees as he passed by them ; but 
it was not until the Empress had shown herself to them in 
response to their special request to be permitted to see their 
" Matushka (Little Mother) the Tsaritsa," that the loving 
desire of the loyal peasants was satisfied. 

The Emperor was deeply impressed by the love shown to 
him, and felt sustained and uplifted by the consciousness that 
millions were praying for him ; and he was justified in saying 
that " no one knows, no one can count, the number of earnest 
prayers which are being offered up for me." 

That a reform of such magnitude would not satisfy all 
parties was natural — to the Conservatives it was too " liberal," 
and to the Radicals it was just " liberal " and nothing more. 
Between the two the Emperor, who was a decided Liberal, 
had taken his stand ; but it was hard indeed for Alexander 
to stand firm in the midst of such cross-currents of opinion. 
The ministers who worked with him upheld him when 
the vortex of opposing tendencies threatened to carry him 
off his feet ; for Alexander did not possess that strength 
of character which would have enabled him to stand alone. 
But the Emperor who had so persistently refused to give heed 
to conservative prejudices against the abolition of serfdom, 
made a great concession to them the moment that reform 
had become a fact. 

History repeated itself ; just as two hundred years pre- 
viously the Patriarch Nikon was cast aside although his 
scheme of reform was carried out, so now the reforms so 
lovingly planned by Lanskoi and Milyutin were entrusted 
to other hands for execution in detail. Their originators were 
granted leave of absence ! 

The new Minister of the Interior, Valouyev, was not 

suspected of being antagonistic to landlordism, and was there- 

1 fore acceptable to the Conservative party and the sorely 

i smitten landowners, whom he succeeded in reconciling to 

' the new measure. 

All the members of the Special Commission who had 
worked out the scheme of reform received decorations from 
the Emperor ; but Milyutin voiced the general feeling of this 


band of patriots when he wrote : "To have had the privilege 
of participating in such a great work is sufficient honour to 
last for the rest of one's life. . . ." 

The great day had come and gone ; the thought of years 
had found its fruition ; the vague humanitarian intentions 
of the various rulers with regard to tJie serfs had at last taken 
a definite form, and the longings of millions of desolate hearts 
were satisfied. A great gift had been promised to the people : 
the next step was to provide an organisation for coping with 
the new conditions created by such a radical reform. An 
absolutel}^ new administration was required in order to 
regulate and carry out the tremendous changes introduced. 
It was imperative that measures should be taken to prevent 
anarchy from replacing the abolished arbitrariness ; among 
other things it was necessary that the millions of serfs who 
had lived all their lives under tutelage should be trained to 
habits of economic independence. 

It was now the turn of the " Westerners " to see their 
ideals put into practice. The greatest difficulty was to get 
hold of the right personnel, but gradually, out of the good 
material which hitherto had been left unused, workers were 
found. Now that honorary and voluntary work was needed, 
the pent-up energy of the upper classes found healthy and 
legitimate outlet in the recognised service in the newly 
organised bodies for the administration of the rural districts, 
and the " Arbitrators of Peace," as they were called, carried 
through successfully the delicate task of settling the land 
question between proprietor and peasant. 

Even the most bitter opponents of the reform, now that 
it had become a fait accompli, accepted the altered conditions 
with a good grace, and within the allotted time the great work 
of preparing charters and title-deeds was accomplished. 

The appearance of a pretender, who picked up a smaU 
following of peasants, and the refusal of certain peasants to 
fulfil their share in the arrangement, did not affect the manner 
in which the reform was carried out generally. The great 
social revolution was brought to a peaceful and amicable 

In 1862, a year after the great climax in the national life 


of Russia had been reached, the Empire celebrated the 
thousandth anniversary of its foundation. To the people, 
however, the hero was not Rurik, who in 862 had begun his 
rule over the few town provinces of ancient Russia, but 
Alexander II., whose vast dominions extended from the 
Baltic to the Pacific, from the White Sea to the Black Sea, 
and the multitudes of whose subjects had hailed in him the 



Peter the Great (1689-1725) : first Emperor of Russia. 

Catherine I. (1725-1727). 

Peter II. Alexeievitch (1727-1730): last male representative of the House 

of Romanoff. 
Anna I. Ivanovna (1730-1740). 

Regency of Anna Leopoldovna (1740-1741), on behalf of Ivan VI. 
Elizabeth Petrovna (1741-1762). 

Peter III., Duke of Holstem-Gottorp (1762) : grandson of Peter I. 
Catherme II. (the Great) (1762-1796). 
Paul I. (1796-1801). 
Alexander I. (1801-1825). 
Nicholas I. (1825-1855). 
Alexander II. (Tsar- Liberator) (1855-1881). 
Alexander III. (1881-1894). 
Nicholas II. (1894^ ). 





The millenary celebration of the Russian Empire was merely 
an interlude in the great drama of the life of the nation, in 
which each generation has provided its own plot and a different 
company of actors. The stage once occupied by Boyars, 
courtiers, soldiers, and serfs is now filled with members 
of the landed gentry and the professional classes, spurred on 
to activity by humanitarian principles or political convictions. 
Later on the student class appears on the scene, full of zeal, 
enthusiasm, and power of devotion to an ideal. Lastly, the 
proletariat has also come forward with its thronging human 
life. Many events have happened since the year 1862, and 
the actors in them are, for the most part, drawn from classes 
which tiU then had either been voiceless or had hardly existed 
at all. 

As a result of the liberation of the serfs, the whole structure 
of the nation was broken down and new conditions were 
created. Out of the debacle of the old a new society arose, a 
genuine middle class developed, and the old historic class of 
landowners ceased to be the foundation of the social structure. 
Many of the smaU landowners with the loss of their serfs lost 
their means of subsistence — for the money paid them by the 
Government was soon spent — and had now themselves to 
earn their daily bread. The new middle class comprised all 
who could lay claim to education, including the sons of the 
village clergy, 1 of shopkeepers as weU as of artisans, and even 

1 The status of the clergy in Russia, both socially and inteUectuaUy, is 
exceedingly low, and can in no way be compared with that of the clergy of 
Western Europe, more especially of England. 


A LINK 323 

of peasants. No longer caste, but personal culture, deter- 
mined social status, and higher education was open to all who 
desired it. 

In this new society were also merged the so-called "peni- 
tent nobles " — men who had come to realise how excessively 
privileged they as a class had been in the past contrasted with 
the utter denial of legal rights to the serfs. They now devoted 
themselves to the cause of furthering the welfare of the 
liberated serfs, and, forsaking the life of ease and leisure they 
might have enjoyed, now joined the ranks of the workers. 

Yet another class — that of the proletariat — was created. 
At this period commercial enterprise rapidly developed in 
consequence of capital having been set free by increased 
circulation of currency as against wealth tied up in the serfs, 
and the peasants being free to live where they liked, many 
flocked to the towns, where they became factory hands. 

This release of capital also furthered industrial enterprise, 
and the artisan, who had hitherto carried on manual industry, 
was now unable to hold out against the competition of 
machinery. Forced to close his own small workshop, he 
swelled the ranks of the proletariat. 

Thus the whole social condition of the nation had changed. 
The new classes required civic rights, for which, unfortunately, 
no provision had been made, and the existing laws lacked 
elasticity. We might well compare the conditions thus 
created to the discomfort felt by a youth who has outgrown 
his clothes, but for whom his parents do not seem to realise 
the necessity of providing larger garments, proposing instead 
to let out the seams ! 

In the case of the nation certain reforms were promised 
to alleviate the evident social inconvenience, but, with the 
exception of the liberation of the serfs and of the judicial 
reform, they were only partially carried out. Fortunately, 
nothing could undo the liberation of the serfs ; yet even 
that reform was modified in order to satisfy the clamour of 
the old aristocratic party. 

Too late did the Government realise the truth — ^that new 
wine must be put into new bottles. In his official report to 
the Emperor Nicholas II., Count Witte thus describes the 



1864. January 1. 

>» >> 

„ April 4. 

1877. April 24. 

1878. February 19. 

1879. February' 8. 
„ April 2. 

1881. March 1. 

exigencies of the political situation which had to be faced : 
" Russia has outgrown and burst the bonds of her political 
structure. Her aim is to secure a constitutional Government 
based on the foundation of civic liberty." 

As this chapter is intended merely to link the year 1862 
with the present day, only the principal landmarks of the 
national progress in its broader aspect can be noted. 

Revolution in Poland. 

Local self-government granted to the provinces (Semstvo). 

Trial b}^ jury introduced. 

Attempt on the life of Alexander II. by Karakosov. 

Tashkent comes under Russian rule. 

The Treat}' of Paris is annuUed by Russia. 

Khiva comes under Russian suzerainty. 

Khokand is annexed. 

War is declared against Turkey. 

Treaty of San Stefano. 

Peace of Constantinople. 

Begianing of revolutionary terrorism. 

Attempt on the life of the Emperor by Solovyev. 

Alexander II. killed. 

Alexander III. ascends the throne. 

Beginning of the influence of Pobyedonostsev, lay head 
of the Holy Synod, which lasts until 1905. 

Suspension of the ordinary civic laws which are superseded 
by temporary coercive laws promulgated for a period 
of six months only, but which, as a fact, have con- 
tinued in force up to the present. 

Limitation of the representative principle of self- 

Creation of the Zemski Xatchalniki — a new class of 
official, appointed from amongst the local nobility, 
endowed with special power over the peasants, in- 
cluding that of inflicting corporal punishment. 

Limitation of trial by jury. 

Threatened rupture with England over Afghanistan. 

Death of Alexander III. 

Nicholas II. comes to the throne. 

Coronation of the Emperor. At the festive celebration 
three thousand people are crushed to death on the 
field of KhodjTika in Moscow. 

Introduction of the Government drink monopoly. 

Introduction of the gold standard. 

Russia takes Port Arthur. 

Beginning of reaction. 









February 2. 

July 15. 
January 2. 

Febiniary 4. 
March 10. 
May 27. 
September 5. 

Oct. 10-17. 



October 18. 

December 6 

AprH 27. 

July 10. 
„ 17. 

„ 19. 
August 10. 
„ 12. 

„ 19. 

September 1. 

Franco -Russian aUiance. 

Japanese War. 

Battle of Laoyang. 

Plehve, Minister of the Interior, is killed. 

Fall of Port Arthur. 

Red Sunday. Led by Father Gapon, twenty thousand 
unarmed workmen proceed to the Winter Palace 
to ask for poUtical and civic rights. They are met 
by machine-guns. 

The Grand Duke Sergei is killed in Moscow. 

Fall of Mukden. 

Battle of Tchushima. 

Mutiny on the battleship Potemkin. 

Peace with Japan is concluded : Treaty of Portsmouth. 

Riots in Odessa and conflagration of the harbour. 

General strike in Russia and Finland. 

The Emperor issues a manifesto granting a constitution : 
" To grant to the people permanent foundations of 
civic freedom on the principles of actual inviolability 
of person, Uberty of conscience, of speech, of meeting, 
and of association." 

Beginning of the coimter-revolution. Pogroms take 
place in two hundred cities, directed not only against 
Jews, but against the progressive elements, e.g. Nijni- 
Novgorod and Tomsk. 

Revolution in Moscow. Barricades. 

Reorganisation of the armj^ and navy. 

First Duma assembles. Immediate cessation of revolu- 
tionary excesses. 

Dissolution of the first Duma. 

Revolution and mutiny in Sveaborg. 

Mutiny in Kronstadt. 

Revolution in Sevastopol. 

Attempt on the life of the Prime Minister, P. A. 

Aggravated reaction. Trial by field court-martial 
introduced. One hundred and six people are 
hanged in the first week, and in the foUowmg six 
months (February 1907), never less than one 
hundred a month. 

Second Duma meets. 

Dissolution of the second Duma. Change of electorate law. 

Empire quieted down after revolution, no longer any 
revolutionary excesses, but reaction continues. The 
rights restored to Finland in 1905 are curtailed. 

Anglo- Russian entente. 


1912. Agrarian reform. 

1914. August 2. War with Germany. 

,, ,, Abolition of the drink monopoly. 

,, ., Prohibition of the sale of intoxicants. 

„ „ 5. Proclamation by the Grand Duke Nicholas promising 

Autonomy to Poland. 

The political development of the nation, with all its start- 
ling vicissitudes, during the fifty-four years which followed 
the great reforms introduced by Alexander II., might be 
forcibly illustrated by a chart. Reform and reaction follow 
each other with striking regularity ; but in spite of this 
there has been on the whole a steady upward movement. 
This encouraging fact inspires the lover of Russia with the 
hope that soon her progress will be uninterrupted, and that 
after the war a new era will open up for the nation. 

Professor VinogradofE thus voices this anticipation in a 
letter to the Times of 14th September 1914 : " It is our 
firm conviction that the sad state of reaction and oppression 
is at an end in Russia, and that our country will issue from 
this momentous crisis with the insight and strength required 
for the constructive and progressive statesmanship of which 
it stands in need." So much for her future domestic policy. 

As to her foreign policy the same writer says : " Russia 
is so huge and so strong that material power has ceased to be 
attractive to her thinkers. Nevertheless, we need not yet 
retire into the desert, or deliver ourselves to be bound hand 
and foot by ' civilised ' Germans. . . . Russia also wields 
a sword — a charmed sword, blunt in an unrighteous cause 
but sharp enough in the defence of right and freedom." 



The mist which covers the early days of Russian history hides 
also the origin of the Cossack nation, but the psychological 
causes, as well as the political and economic conditions, which 
went towards the making up of the warrior race are well 
known to historians. 

Ethnologically the original Cossacks were not a distinct 
people, they were inhabitants of Little Russia, the cradle of 
ancient Russia ; historically, however, they developed in 
the course of centuries into a separate race. 

What Tacitus wrote of the love of freedom amongst the 
Slavs in general has become true of the Cossacks in particular. 
It may be that the very vastness of their land predisposed 
this people to a hatred of confines and limitations, for geo- 
graphical position plays a great role in the shaping of national 
character, which is again accentuated by political conditions. 
The situation of their country as a borderland had a 
definite and lasting influence on the development of the 
Cossacks, in whom this love of freedom found its purest and 
strongest expression. 

To the Russian mind " Kazatchestvo " — " Cossackdom " — 
stands for a certain conception and organisation of life, dis- 
tinctive in the various manifestations of its social, adminis- 
trative, and political existence. It also always stands for 
the idea of liberty and independence. " Free as the Cossack " 
has become proverbial, as has that other saying, " Cruel 
as the Cossack," But it must be borne in mind that their 
ruthless cruelty was not more ferocious than that of their 
adversaries, and was always on a level with the accepted 



war morality of those days when the Cossacks played such 
an important part. 

By the middle of the twelfth century Kiev, the premier 
prmcipality of ancient Russia, had lost her supremacy. The 
political power had shifted to Suzdal and Vladimir. This 
decline, however, was not brought about by political reasons 
alone, but also by economic conditions. The population had 
steadily decreased, partly owing to the fact that in the ancient 
Russia of the tenth to the thirteenth century forced labour 
had been a sine qua non. The only labourers were captives 
of w^ar, and her princes therefore made frequent war on one 
another for the sake of securing prisoners. Another cause of 
the depopulation and corresponding weakness of Southern 
Russia was her position on the frontier ; hence the name 
"Ukraina," or Borderland. East of the Dnieper stretched 
the endless steppes, where roamed those tribes of nomads 
who were constantly attacking the Russians ; and thus the 
increasing insecurity of the country gradually kept all foreign 
merchants from visiting Kiev. 

The principality became depopulated, and the city being 
no longer a trading centre, the ancient capital of Russia sank 
to an insignificant position. In 1240 she was reduced to 
ruins by the hordes of Batu Khan, who were devastating the 
whole country ; and for the next fifty years a veil is drawn 
over the fate of the once famous city. 

The majority of the surviving natives of Southern Russia, 
forsaken by their princes, w^ho had fled into Galicia, themselves 
fled the country. They left the beautiful land for the gloomy 
pine forests and marshlands of Lithuania, which were more 
in tune with their despondent souls than was the beauty of 
the flowering steppes. The battle with stern nature, the 
hardships endured in their country of refuge, whose unfertile 
soil was so different from that of their former home, influenced 
the character of these Slavs, causing them to develop into 
brave, strong, passionate people. 

While Russia was still lying in misery, poverty, and sub- 
jugation to the Mongol yoke, Gedemin, Prince of Lithuania, 
led this new nation back to their old haunts — to the shores 
of the mighty river Boristhenes, or Dnieper. His followers, 


who were a rude and wild people, clad in skins and 
worshippers of Perun, the old god of the Russians, became 
famous under their great leader. Gedemin took from the 
Tatars all the country east of Poland and north of the Crimea, 
but so great was his political wisdom, that he managed to 
keep friends with them while yet paying them no tribute. 
After his death in 1340 he was succeeded by his son Olgerd. 

From that time two separate Russias began to develop : 
one in the middle and the north, owing allegiance to the 
Tatars ; the other in the south, owing a nominal allegiance 
to Lithuania, but without having any real union with that 
principality. For the Lithuanian rulers had left the Russian 
lands pretty much to themselves and to the rule of their 
own princes. 

The Ukraina became the battlefield of three nations — the 
Turks, the Tatars, and the Poles. It was a land of terror, so 
exposed to raids by Tatars that only a warlike people could 
have dared to live in it. The country was rich and fertile : 
the northern part was covered with oak forests inhabited by 
wild beasts, while in the south the vast prairies or steppes 
teemed with game. Through these flowed the Dnieper, the 
right shore of which was rocky and steep ; but on the left 
bank, which was flat and open, lay wide stretches of meadow- 
land covered with lovely bright flowers. Although this land 
was so fertile, it was not worth while to grow much corn, for 
almost invariably the Tatars came and destroyed the crops ; 
and even if the grain had had a chance to ripen, it could not 
have been exported, as on the lower reaches thirteen rapids 
hindered the navigation of the Dnieper. This river formed a 
boundary between the Tatars who roamed over the wild 
prairie and that desperate people who carried their lives in 
their hands — the Cossacks. 

The many islands of this river, covered as they were with 
high reeds, served as a refuge for the fugitives, runaways, 
and outlaws who joined the people whom Gedemin had led 
back from Lithuania. 

Every January, when the snow made soft ground for 
the hoofs of their unshodden horses, an army of from forty 
to fifty thousand Tatars would invade Poland, to do which 


they had to cross the Ukraina. Terrible was the devastation 
caused by their annual raids. They took back with them 
thousands of prisoners, whom they sold into Asia Minor and 
Turkey, where there was a regular market for the fair-skinned 
captives. A contemporary writes that these Tatars treated 
tlieir prisoners with atrocious barbarity : " their brutish nature 
causing them to commit a thousand enormities ; it would 
move the most insensible to compassion to hear the cries and 
lamentations of the unhappy people, and would grieve the 
most stony heart to see husbands parted from their wives, 
mothers from their children." 

As the Cossacks grew in number and strength they repulsed 
these invaders and acted as a bulwark for Western Europe 
against the inroads of the terrible Tatars. " Death to the 
infidel ! " became their war-cry ; and as at an earlier time in 
Western Europe knights went forth to fight for the Cross 
against the Crescent, so these Slavonic warriors gradually 
formed themselves into the Knighthood of the Zaporogian 
Setcha, whose object it was to war against the enemies of 
Christianity. For these wild people had become devout and 
ardent adherents of the Russian Church, and considered 
attacks upon the Tatars as moral, virtuous, and pleasing 
to God. 

At the same time it must be admitted that, although they 
fought originally for their faith and against the oppressors, 
they came in process of time to love war for its own sake and 
for the sake of the booty it brought them. The very name of 
Kazak, given them by the Tatars, is descriptive of their 
manner of life ; for it can mean freebooter as well as lightly 
armed soldier. 

The number of these knights increased as time went on, 
their ranks being constantly reinforced by newcomers ; for 
this society attracted to it, not only men who loved fighting 
and danger for its own sake, but those who sought refuge and 
safety, as this knighthood was also a brotherhood for mutual 
protection. It is a peculiar characteristic of the Slavs that 
instead of resisting and thereby trying to alter the conditions 
which hindered the full play of their liberty, they simply moved 
on ; and the very vastness of the country which they inhabited 


lent itself to these wanderings. This tendency is illustrated 
in one of their proverbs : " The fish goes where the water is 
deepest ; and the man where he fares best." Those who ran 
away to join the Cossacks were of all sorts, and all were 
accepted by the brotherhood, on the one condition — that they 
were, or would become, members of the Russian Church. 

Owing to intermarriage with Tatar maidens, a new type 
of people gradually evolved, and the almond-shaped eyes 
and black hair of the Dnieper Cossacks were the result of 
this mixing of races. East and West met in this nation : by 
geographical position and by religion European, it was by 
custom and manner half Asiatic ; and the resultant blend of 
characteristics made the Cossacks peculiarly adapted to their 
surroundings and fitted for their occupation, which may 
almost be termed their natural element — war. In them 
were combined European carefulness and Asiatic insouciance, 
simplicity and slyness, activity and indolence, propen- 
sities for development and progress and an apparent dis- 
regard for all culture. Out of the melting-pot of centuries 
had been evolved a nation renowned for bravery but 
notorious for ferocity. 

It is to this nation that the Zaporogian Cossacks owe their 
origin. They formed a brotherhood, a spontaneous union 
of free men and open to all those who wished to be free, the 
aim and object of which was to ensure safety and independence. 
To uphold this ideal the Cossacks were ever ready to fight 
against their more powerful neighbours, whether Tatars, 
Poles, or Russians. 

The fact that such an organisation of apparently lawless 
people could exist and flourish is a proof that it answered 
a need. This new society was a reaction against the forms 
of government both of Poland and Russia, which did not 
satisfy the needs, longings, and aspirations of the people, who 
therefore burst through barriers and bonds and joined the 

When, in 1386, Lithuania had come into union with Poland, 
the Russian lands were drawn into more direct intercourse 
with the latter, although the Ukraina had a separate admini- 
strative organisation. The territory was divided into Voye- 


vodstovs, presided over by a Voyevod — a kind of lord-lieu- 
tenant, — and into districts, under Starostas ; the cities being 
governed by castellans or commandants. 

Yagiello, Grand Duke of Lithuania, who had joined the 
Church of Rome on becoming King of Poland, took special 
care to make a satisfactory settlement with regard to his 
Greek Orthodox subjects, especially those of the Ukraina ; he 
granted the nobles equal privileges with the Roman Catholic 
Lithuanians. This union of Lithuania with Poland was 
advantageous to these Russian lands, for Western influence 
and culture began to spread and flourish in the cities, especially 
in Kiev, which once again began to play a leading part in the 
intellectual life of the country. 

By the union of Lublin in 1569 Lithuania was incor- 
porated into Poland and certain parts of her territory came 
under the direct rule of the Polish crown ; among others being 
the Ukraina, which comprised the ancient principalities of 
Kiev, Poltava, and part of Tchernigov. Prom this time 
onward Polish influence became paramount, and Polonisation 
in manners and customs was introduced ; unfortunately, this 
included serfdom, hitherto unknown in Russian lands. 

The agrarian problem, i.e. the lack of a settled population, 
had been for centuries a source of weakness to the Ukraina. 
Enterprising Starostas and Boyars, however, had begun to 
solve it in a way of their own : they offered land, free of 
taxation, to the peasants, who, in truly Russian fashion, 
were always migrating from place to place to find better 
pasture. As time went on whole families settled under the 
protection of the Zaporogian Brotherhood ; and thus gradually 
hamlets and towns sprang up and fortresses were built to 
protect them against the Tatar tribes of the steppes and also 
against the Turks. A contemporary thus describes conditions 
in the Ukraina in the sixteenth century : " The peasant goes 
to work with a gun on his shoulder and a sword at his side." 

The people of the Ukraina came to be divided into two 
distinct sections — the urban population and the free peasants, 
all Cossacks. But, however peaceful the occupation of these 
people, every man had to be primarily a warrior who, at the 
first sound of alarm would drop his tools and exchange them 



for the sword. The signal for mobilisation reached the men 
through their captains, who appeared in market-place and 
on village green, calling out : " Ho, ye distillers and brewers 
— ye have brewed enough beer and lolled on your stoves 
and stuffed your fat carcases with flour long enough ; ye 
ploughmen, ye reapers of buckwheat, ye tenders of sheep, 
ye danglers after women — enough of following the plough 
and courting women, wasting your fighting strength. Arise ! 
win honour and glory ! " These words acted like sparks on 

Plan of Part of the Zaporogian Settlement on the Dnieper Islands. 

dry wood, and keen, brave soldiers were at once ready for 
action. They marched off joyously to join the vanguard of 
the nation at headquarters on the islands of the Dnieper. 

It is from the year 1568 that the society of warriors 
came to be known as the famous and dreaded " Zaporogian 
Setcha " from beyond the rapids. 

The Cossacks gradually formed themselves into a republic, 
the organisation of which was as simple as it was effective. 
From amongst themselves they elected the man most renowned 
for daring, strength, and cunning to be their chief — their 
Ataman, to whom they had to yield implicit obedience. Next 
to him in importance was the " Pissar " or scribe, who was 


responsible for all the diplomatic and clerical work of the 

As their numbers were increased by newcomers it was 
found necessary to subdivide the Zaporogian Setcha, which 
was the vanguard of the nation, into groups or " Koorens," 
a name derived from the word " smoke," suggesting the idea 
of camp-fires enjoyed in common. Each Kooren was under 
a " Kotchevoi " Ataman, whose duty it was to divide the 
spoil and deal out the provisions. He too was elected from 
amongst the members of the community, but the tenure 
of his office was precarious, as in time of peace he could be 
deprived of his office by the demand of even one dissatisfied 
man ; in war time, however, all grievances had to be held 
over, for the Cossacks would never commit the folly of 
" swapping horses while crossing the stream." 

The Ataman, as elected chief, ruled over the whole republic 
of the Ukraina, but laws were made or confirmed by the 
" Circle," or Assembly of all the people, whose most cherished 
privilege was the right to elect their own ruler. 

The mighty river Dnieper was useless for ordinary navi- 
gation, but when it was swoUen the Cossacks were able to 
shoot the rapids on their flat-bottomed boats, to the sides 
of which bundles of reeds were tied to prevent them from 
sinking even if filled with water. In fact, no man was con- 
sidered a fully fiedged Zaporogian until he had navigated 
the river from end to end. Between these rapids lay islands 
varying in size and character. The Sieur de Beauplan, who 
in the seventeenth century acted as engineer to the Poles, 
tells us that many of the rocky islands were eminently suited 
for forts, some even for towns, while others were covered 
with wild vines or trees ; others again were only marshland, 
owing to the frequent flooding of the river. According to 
this authority, a thousand small islands formed a labyrinth 
on which the " Brothers " hid their treasures during their 
absence on expeditions ; each man having his own particular 
spot where he buried his treasures. 

The high banks of the Dnieper made it difficult for the 
Tatars, who lived on the other side, to attack them unawares. 
But there was one place where the river was narrow and the 


shore flatter ; there the Tatars made frequent attempts to 
land, while the Cossacks kept a perpetual look-out. But at 
the mouth of the river, which was three miles wide, the Turks 
built a fort to prevent the Cossacks from entering the Black 
Sea. The daring Cossacks, however, only laughed at these 
precautions, and on dark nights, under cover of the high reeds 
near the right shore, they would slip by on their flat-bottomed 
boats and thus evade the watchful eye of the Turkish garrison. 
Once out on the Black Sea, the Cossacks visited and pillaged 
the coasts of Anatolia, Bulgaria, and Roumania, and at 
times even threatened Constantinople itself, rich booty 
being the usual result of such expeditions. 

On these water raids they behaved like true water pirates : 
they attacked and boarded merchant vessels, and, after killing 
the crew, took from the ship all that was of value to them 
and then sank it, as they did not know how to navigate larger 
vessels than those to which they were accustomed. It was 
only when they chanced to meet a Turkish man-of-war that 
they fared ill, for they were unable to face a cannonade. 
After such an encounter, perhaps only one-third of their 
number, or even less, would return to tell the tale. 

It was in battle on land, however, that Cossack superiority 
showed itself ; one Cossack was considered equal to a hundred 
Poles or two hundred Tatars. This was due not only to 
their great skill, courage, and daring, but also to a method 
of fighting peculiar to themselves. A contemporary describes 
it as follows : " They march between two files of carts, being 
protected by eight or ten waggons in the front and as many 
in the rear ; the cavalry surrounding them on all sides. If 
an attack comes, these carts are quickly formed into a kind 
of fortress from which the Cossacks can fire as if entrenched ; 
and as the men in the back rows hand loaded guns to the front 
ranks, continuous and quick firing can be kept up." Descrip- 
tions of Cossack battles, and especially of the hand-to-hand 
encounters of the cavalry, take the reader back to Homeric 
days ; for the Cossacks had much in common, not only in 
character but in manner of fighting, with the heroes who won 
glory on the plains of Troy. 

Fearlessness and courage were their chief characteristics. 


No tears were to be shed for those fcallen in battle or taken 
into captivity, but at night, while sitting romid the blazing 
camp-fii'e, the exploits of these comrades were praised in song. 
And as they listened the flame of revenge leapt up in the 
hearts of the older men, and a desire to become worthy of 
such praise was kindled in the breasts of the younger warriors. 

In time of peace, life was one long holiday on the island 
settlement of the Zaporogian Setcha. There every young 
Cossack had to serve his apprenticeship as a warrior. While 
some of these youths had already spent years of study at the 
Academy of Kiev and could quote Latin authors, the majority 
lacked all education and were simply rude and fearless 
soldiers, but once in the Setcha, all men were equal in the 
careless, happy-go-lucky existence of the Brotherhood. This 
was the heyday of Cossack life, and even older and married 
men would leave their homes for months or years at a time 
to join their comrades — to carouse with them and to discuss 
their former deeds of war, or to join them in campaigns. 
The days were spent drinking, dancing, and gambling ; and 
if all the loot had been wasted in riotous living, there were 
always Jews' shops to be ransacked. Although frugal in their 
private life, the Cossacks delighted in generous display. 

In this free and joyous existence woman, however, had 
no part, and no woman was ever permitted to set foot on the 
settlement on the Dnieper isles. Cossack songs and baUads, 
of which two absolutely different kinds have been preserved, 
depict this strict separation of the sexes. 

It is only through poetry that anything about the woman's 
life comes to be known. These poems are full of sadness : 
they express the mother's grief at her son's departure to join 
the Brotherhood, or the young wife's sorrow at having to 
part from her newly wedded husband, the memory of a few 
happy weeks being all that is left to her. All the songs of 
the women are full of tender love, pathos, and melody, while 
those of the men express the strength, joy, and power of those 
who gladly exchange the quiet and ease of home life for the 
romance of deeds and danger, or for uninterrupted holiday- 
making with their comrades. The irresponsible carousing 
at the Setcha and every action in battle, whether victorious 



combat or death on the battlefield, are depicted in these 
songs, which are dramatic and full of poetry — though refer- 
ences to nature are made only to accentuate the feelings and 
experiences of the Cossacks. These ballads also set forth 
the loyalty of the members of the Brotherhood to each 

Cossack Boat. 

other, and their faithfulness to the Church, which latter was 
perhaps the strongest incentive to action. 

These two virtues comprised the very simple code of 
honour of this knighthood. In his own eyes the Cossack 
was primarily a Christian knight, who fought for his faith 
against the infidel ; but later he defended his Greek 
Orthodox faith against the Roman Catholic Poles with equal 
devotion. This religious fervour, however, which showed 
itself in obedience to the priests and scrupulous attention 

Cossack Ca:\ip. 

to the feasts and fasts of the Church, entailing nine months* 
abstention from meat, did not influence the warriors in their 
moral conduct ; and if they had any qualms, their conscience 
was quickly salved by a rich donation of looted treasure to 
the Church. Nor did their devoutness prevent them from 
hard drinking : they saw no sense in drinking spirits except 
to get royally drunk. However, the moment war was 



declared or a raid decided upon, all Cossacks became strict 
abstainers, and anyone found drinking was immediately 
hanged. They realised their own incapacity for moderation, 
and knew only too well how fatal drunkenness was to success, 
and how necessary sobriety in order to keep on the alert 
against sudden attacks of the enemy. 

In the sixteenth century, when the Cossacks step into 
the full light of history, many Polish magnates had encroached 
on Cossack land, and Poland had already obtained feudal 
power over the republic of the Zaporogian Setcha, much of 
its fighting being done at the request of the Poles ; yet any 
attempt at interference with their liberties and privileges 
was always keenly resented. 

As the Cossacks loved fighting for fighting's sake, they 
were always glad to find a pretext for going to war on their 
own account. Various pretenders found in them willing 
supporters, and this gave their virility a definite object and 
outlet. It did not matter to them in the least who the pre- 
tender was, and during the sixteenth century they fought 
on behalf of four aspirants to the throne of Moldavia, one of 
whom was a Greek and another a Serb. The King of Poland, 
however, forbade them to give hospitality to these bold 
adventurers, as Moldavia was his vassal state. 

The Cossacks were always open to a bid, and in one case 
where the Sultan Murad failed, the German Emperor Rudolf 
of Hapsburg succeeded in obtaining their services. In 1594 
he sent a special envoy to ask their help against the Turks. 
The envoy brought them presents — silver trumpets, a standard 
with the Imperial eagle, and money, but the Cossacks did 
not consider this enough, and made excuses until more was 

In his diary the envoy describes minutely in what manner 
and how many times the Cossacks met in council to consider 
his offers, till at last they were found acceptable ; whereupon 
they declared their willingness " to fight the enemy of the 
Cross, with the help of God." They were ready to go against 
Perikop in the Crimea or " wherever the Almighty or the 
wind will send their ships." After the Cossacks had presented 
the Austrian with sable and black-fox furs, he returned to 


Regensburg accompanied by two Cossack delegates. This 
gentleman seemed most favourably impressed by " the 
Knights," which title he readily accorded them. He describes 
them as " a brave and joyous people, trained from their 
youth up in the manner of war, and acquainted with the 
ways of both Tatar and Turk." 

Poland, however, found the free republic a perpetual 
thorn in her side ; for not only did the Cossacks, when bored 
by inactivity, raid some Polish town and thus procure for 
themselves diversion and booty, but they also welcomed 
into their ranks the runaway serfs of the Polish magnates. 
They refused to hand over these unfortunates to their 
Polish masters, for it was a point of honour with the Cossacks 
never to betray those who came to them for protection. A 
contemporary says that, while the masters lived in Paradise, 
the serfs lived in Purgatory. No wonder these peasants 
formed themselves into robber bands called " Haidamaks," 
and as such became a terror to their former masters. 

At last the wise and far-seeing King Stefan Bathory 
(1576-86) found ways and means, not only to render the 
Cossacks innocuous, but also to make use of them by attach- 
ing them more closely to Poland. He sent an envoy to them 
with presents — a standard, a baton, and a seal — and offered 
to recognise their chief, the Ataman or Hetman, as an official 
of the Polish crown. He also invited six thousand Cossacks 
to join his army, two thousand to be on active service and 
four thousand in reserve. To each man he promised one 
fur coat and one ducat a year as pay. This new army of 
" registered Cossacks " (under which designation they formed 
part of the Polish military organisation) cost the king one- 
fourth of his royal revenues. 

However, this overture was not successful in bringing 
about a definite settlement, as all Cossacks wanted to be 
recognised as enlisted warriors ; for it was the ambition 
of those Zaporogians whom the Polish nobles claimed as 
runaway slaves to acquire equality with the original free-born 

It was impossible for the king to grant this ambitious 
request without insulting his nobles. Finally an edict was 


issued to the Ukraina, according to which six thousand of the 
Cossacks were allowed to retain the right to carry arms, and 
these were to be enrolled into regular Cossack regiments, 
while the rest of the people were to go back into bondage. 
This order divided the nation into two distinct sections : 
the enlisted and the unenlisted — or the registered and the 
unregistered, as the Poles called them. The abrogation of 
their rights met with violent opposition on all sides ; the 
unenlisted refused to become serfs, while the enlisted were 
dissatisfied with the refusal of their demand to be put on an 
equality with the Polish warrior class or " Szlachta." Three 
Cossack insurrections followed, one of which was due to the 
increasing irritation caused by the proselytising efforts of 
the Jesuits, who wielded great influence and power in Poland. 
The Ruthenians or Ukrainians met their attempts with 
stubborn resistance, for the methods employed by the Jesuits 
were both vexatious and insulting ; for instance, the Church 
fees were farmed out to Jews, who held the keys of the 
Russian churches and levied taxes on every baptism, marriage, 
and funeral. 

It was this double tyranny of Jesuit and Jew which drove 
the population of the Ukraina to appeal to the Zaporogian 
Setcha for help and protection. Thus began the wars with 
Poland, which lasted off and on for over a century. They 
were waged by the Poles in the name of religion, with such 
savage fanaticism that horrors were perpetrated which can 
only have been equalled by the Spaniards in South America ; 
while the Cossacks replied with reprisals no less terrible. 

Unfortunately, the successors of wise Stefan Bathory did 
not carry on his conciliatory policy ; they failed to realise 
the strength and importance of the Cossacks, and by irritating 
attacks on their liberty, and interference with their national 
religion, alienated a people who were as bitter foes as they 
were staunch friends. 

From 1612 to 1622 we find the Cossacks enjoying a period 
of prosperity under their Ataman, Peter Konaszewicz. They 
fought on the Polish side against Russia and Turkey ; they 
plundered the Crimea, attacked the northern coast of Asia 
Minor, conquered the Turkish fleet, and even burned the 


suburbs of Constantinople. But although Poland concluded 
peace with Turkey in 1621, the Ataman continued fighting 
on his own account ; this act of defiance served the Poles 
as a pretext for finally crushing the unruly Cossacks. A 
general was sent to treat with them, ostensibly to restrain 
them from making raids into Turkey, but in reality to destroy 
them. The Cossacks believed the false promises made to 
them, only to find themselves treacherously caught in a trap. 
They were forced to comply with the limited registration and 
were compelled to burn their ships, and the " unregistered " 
had to sell their possessions and return within three months 
to their former masters. All this led in 1630 to a new rebellion 
against Polish arrogance and oppression. 

In 1632 Cossack delegates appeared at the Polish Diet : 
they demanded the vote, an increase in the number of " regis- 
tered," and the official recognition of the Greek Church. 
Although the vote was denied them, they obtained the last 
demand. The then ruling Metropolitan of Kiev was Peter 
Mohyla — a man to whom Russia as a whole and not only 
the Ukraina owes much. It was he who revived scientific 
and scholastic life by founding the Academy of Kiev, from 
which also Moscow derived her teachers. What their Ataman 
Konaszewicz had done for their political existence, Mohyla did 
for the intellectual life : he strengthened and developed the 
national self-consciousness of the people of the Ukraina, and 
neither Polish nor, later on, Russian oppression has ever 
succeeded in destroying the claims of the Ruthenians to be 
a nation. 

It was unfortunate that the king who so wisely granted 
the Cossacks religious liberty should have failed to satisfy 
their political aspirations ; as a matter of fact, conditions 
were only made worse, for now even the "registered" were 
deprived of their rights and their Ataman was superseded by 
a Polish official, " the Hetman of the Crown," as he was caUed. 

To enforce these unjust laws, fearful acts of repression 
were committed. The Polish Government did not heed the 
warnings of the more far-seeing of its members, who contended 
that, although to deprive the Cossacks of their rights might 
result in benefits to the few, it was sure to be a danger to 


the State as a whole. The economic interests of the Polish 
nobility, however, gained the day. As was only natural, the 
Cossacks resented this tyranny, but bloody war was made on 
them till they were crushed. 

After this period of oppression, peace reigned in tlie 
Ukraina for ten years, but it was only the calm before the 
storm. Occasionally delegates were sent to the king to 
complain of the existing conditions, which were rapidly 
becoming unbearable ; but he was helpless, for he himself 
suffered from the arrogant domination of the aristocracy. 

At last a great insurrection broke out under Bogdan 
Hmielnitski, the Cossack Scribe, whose son had been killed 
and who had been robbed of his wife and lands by a Polish 
official. He appealed to the king, but found no redress for 
his injuries. It was whispered, however, that the king had 
privately pointed out to him that he still possessed a good 
sword. The Zaporogian Setcha made common cause with 
Hmielnitski, whose grievance caused the smouldering embers 
of the whole of the Ukraina to burst into flame, and the 
watchword of the Cossacks was " Death to the Polish nobles ! " 
and " Death to the Jesuits ! " Though the Cossacks hated 
Islam, they hated the Roman Church even more at that time, 
and therefore had no compunction in asking the Tatars to 
help them against the common foe. Hmielnitski and his 
followers, however, explicitly declared that their rising was 
not against King and Government, but only against their 

Genuinely anxious to remove the causes of the trouble, 
the king, Vladislav, despatched a commission to inquire 
into the matter ; but at the same time, contrary to the wish 
of the king, an army under the Crown Hetman Potocki 
invaded the Ukraina. He was defeated, taken prisoner, and 
six thousand of his men killed. 

Just then the king died (1648). The Diet was divided 
as to the best manner of dealing with the Cossacks, those 
" rebels by nature." One party desired to come to a lasting 
and satisfactory understandmg with them, while the other 
demanded their extermination. At last a compromise was 
hit upon : an envoy was sent to treat with the Cossack leader, 

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while simultaneously an army was to hold itself in readiness 
to strike. The envoy failed in his mission, and the great army 
of two hundred and thirty thousand men, which had been 
concentrated on the frontier, succumbed one night to panic 
and fled. The whole camp fell into the hands of Hmielnitski, 
who now invested Lemberg, from which he levied seven 
hundred thousand gulden. He then attacked Zamose, and, 
while he was besieging that fortress, his delegates brought 
sufficient pressure to bear upon the Diet to cause the election 
of the candidate for the throne approved by the great Cossack 

For, although Poland was a republic, her elected president 
bore the royal title of king. For the sake of the new king, 
from whom he expected a more peaceful and Just rule, 
Hmielnitski stayed the fire. With pomp and triumph he 
returned to Kiev, where embassies from the Sultan, the Tsar, 
and the Hospodar of Moldavia awaited him. 

War broke out again in 1649, when Poland refused to 
accept Hmielnitski's conditions of peace, viz. that the number 
of " registered " Cossacks should be increased to forty 
thousand and that certain Voyevodstovs should be given to 
his warriors ; that all Jews and Jesuits should leave the 
Ukraina ; that the Metropolitan of Kiev should have a seat 
in the Senate ; and that official positions in the new provinces 
should be held only by members of the Russian Church. 
These conditions were objected to, not only by the Poles 
but also by those Cossacks who were not to be included in 
the forty thousand, as they resented having to return to 
serfdom, with the result that renewed fighting and insur- 
rections took place. 

The Cossacks were defeated through the treachery of the 
Tatar Khan at the battle of Beresteczko in 1651. Hmiel- 
nitski was taken captive, but escaped and offered new and 
more moderate conditions of peace, which, however, were 
also refused. 

When Hmielnitski finally realised that it was useless to 
expect from the Poles permanent guarantees for the recog- 
nition of the rights of the Ukraina, he acclaimed the Sultan 
as his feudal lord. But the treacherous behaviour of the 


Khan of the Crimea, who was to assist him by order of the 
Sultan, led the great leader in 1654 to offer his country and 
his people to the Tsar of Moscow, who was delighted to accept 
the gift, although it had very stringent conditions attached 
to it. 

Before ultimately deciding this important question, 
Hmielnitski called together the Council of the Cossacks. 
He told them that their republic could not do without some 
kind of overlord (Hmielnitski himself never aimed at being 
an independent ruler). He therefore put before them a 
choice of suzerains : there were the Sultan and the Khan — 
both infidels, in whose realms Christians were badly treated — 
the King of Poland, but his comrades knew how unbearable 
conditions had been under his rule ; and lastly there was 
the Tsar of Russia, who belonged to the same faith as they 
did. As faith played an all-important part with the Cossacks, 
their choice naturally fell on the Tsar Alexei. Having thus 
decided whom to join, Hmiehiitski read out to the assembled 
Council the conditions under which they might be willing 
to give their allegiance, and which the Tsar had declared 
himself ready to accept. These were : full autonomy ; the 
right to elect their o"v\ti Ataman, who was to receive a salary 
of a thousand ducats and all the revenues of the town of 
Tchigirin ; sixty thousand Cossacks to be registered as 
soldiers, each one to receive three roubles a year. They also 
demanded the retention of their hunting, fishing, brewing, and 
distilling rights ; nor were any taxes whatever to be levied 
upon them. They were to be judged by their own judges ; 
and even should there be only three Cossacks in a town, one 
of them being a defaulter, the two others were to have 
jurisdiction over him. One more very important privilege 
the Cossacks desired to retain, viz., that of receiving envoys, 
for although they were prepared primarily to serve the Tsar, 
they wished to be free to answer the call of anyone who might 
require their services. 

The Tsar agreed to all this on the understanding that 
such envoys must only come from nations friendly to Mus- 
covy, but he drew the line at diplomatic dealings with 
Poland and Turkey. A few of the older Cossacks refused 


to acknowledge anyone as overlord, and left the meeting 
while the others were signing the deed. 

From this time on the Cossacks had to fight for the 
country of their adoption against Lithuania and Poland. 

Hmielnitski, however, concluded a separate peace with 
the Polish Government ; it may have been that his pride 
was satisfied with the humiliation meted out to his former 
foes. Soon after, this famous patriot's career came to an 
end. It is said that he was poisoned by wine presented to 
him by a Polish visitor. 

After Hmielnitski's death Poland had one more chance to 
regain Little Russia, as his successor volunteered to transfer 
his allegiance to the Polish king, on condition that aU the 
demands formerly refused should now be conceded. By the 
Treaty of Hadziaz in 1658 all these were granted, and the 
Ukraina was accorded the same position as Lithuania ; so 
that what had been denied to the people when loyal, was 
now to be given them. But the concession came too late, 
for the Tsar was loth to lose the Ukraina. 

Thus at this time a most important part of the Ukraina 
was lost to Poland ; but more blood had to be shed before 
the whole was incorporated into Russia. The Ukraina, 
apart from the lower region of the river — the Zaporogian 
lands, with the town of Tcherkassi as their centre, — 
consisted of two other districts, one on the left and one on 
the right side of the river. Each district, under a different 
Hetman, pursued a separate policy ; and thus, before Muscovy 
took possession of the whole of the Ukraina, there was a period 
in which the right side still belonged to Poland, while the left 
side was already joined to Russia. It was not until the Treaty 
of Androussovo (1667) that the whole Ukraina was definitely 
acquired by Russia. 

Unfortunately, the successors of the Tsar Alexei did not 
adhere to their word, and Peter the Great especially embittered 
the Cossacks by his arbitrary actions. He tried in every way 
to weaken the Zaporogians, to whose independent attitude 
he objected, and twenty thousand of them lost their lives 
while digging canals by order of the Tsar on the marshland 
by the Neva, where he intended to found his new capital. 


They particularly resented Peter the Great's act in presenting 
to the Starostas, as their personal property, the lands over 
which they had been ruling in virtue of election, whereby the 
rest of the people were deprived of the land which had belonged 
to all in common. This arbitrary act created a landless 
class, " the naked people," who now formed themselves into 
the " Black Council." The Tsar had only made trouble for 
himself by his arbitrariness, and once more the Zaporogian 
Cossacks rose up in revolt ; this time under the Hetman 
Mazeppa, who made use of the popular discontent to further 
his own ambition, which was to become King of the Ukraina. 

Mazeppa knew that it would be impossible for the Tsar 
to sanction such a scheme, as a kingdom of the Ukraina would 
have been an obstacle in the way of the Empire's expansion 
towards the Black Sea, The Hetman therefore turned 
traitor and offered his assistance to the King of Sweden, then 
at war with Peter I., hoping thus to gain his own ends. But 
he had miscalculated the number of men he could bring into 
the field to assist his royal ally, and at the decisive moment 
he had onlj^- two thousand instead of thirty thousand at his 

The revolt, which ended in failure, cost the Dnieper 
Cossacks their last vestige of independence. Their military 
organisation was abolished by the Tsar ; whereupon many 
of the Zaporogians left the Ukraina, to be recalled later on 
by the Empress Catherine I, ; but she failed to fulfil the 
promises she had made to them. Some years later the Empress 
Elizabeth restored some of their privileges, but this was merely 
done to please her favourite Razoumovski, who was a Cossack 
by birth. Under Catherine II. the Zaporogians finally lost 
the last vestige of their privileges ; she even abolished the 
Hetmanship by depriving Count Razoumovski, the favourite's 
brother, of this position. 

After Catherine II. had annexed Poland and had conquered 
the Tatars of the Crimea, there seemed to be no place for 
those who were left of the Zaporogian Setcha, and five 
thousand of these inveterate warriors migrated to Turkey, 
where they were lost sight of. The rest the Empress rendered 
innocuous by forcing them to go and settle on the Kuban and 


in Siberia, where they were sent to act as a frontier guard. 
Thus ended in 1775 the career of the famous Brotherhood of 
the Knights " from beyond the rapids." Most of the ordinary 
agricultural Cossack population of the Ukraina also lost its 
liberty ; for the Empress made presents to her favourites 
of large tracts of land, with all the people living on them. 
A million and a half of the once free people of Little Russia 
were thus turned into serfs. 

The chequered career of the historic Cossacks has such 
divergent sides that most people will find in it something 
to appeal to their personal sympathy. The communistic 
manner of life characteristic of the Dnieper Cossacks, their 
love of independence, their readiness to protect the oppressed 
and down-trodden, their fight for the Christian faith against 
the Moslem Tatars, their struggles and wars against the 
influence and power of the Jesuits in Poland, their defence 
of Greek Orthodoxy against Romanism : all these facts 
redeem them from the charge, not seldom made against them, 
of having been a mere band of organised freebooters. 

It is well for the Western nations to remember that they 
owe a debt of gratitude to the original Cossacks who staved 
off the overflow of the Tatar hordes ; and if they have come to 
stand for all that is cruel and barbarous, it is because they 
bore the brunt of the Tatar barbarities. One must never 
forget that the Cossacks of the past fought for Christianity 
against the infidel, and for freedom against oppression. 



Much ignorance prevails with regard to those famous members 
of the Russian army, who to-day, as well as in days gone by, 
form essentially the border guard of the mighty Empire. 

The first Cossacks of the Don, after whom a large district 
of south-eastern Russia has come to be called, were originally 
Cossacks from the Dnieper who in the sixteenth century had 
gone further east to the fertile steppes of the Don, which 
already belonged to Muscovy. There thej?^ encountered 
exactly the same economic and social conditions which, some 
centuries earlier, had led to the development of Cossackdom 
in Little Russia. 

There on the Don these men carried on the traditions, 
organisation, and administration peculiar to Cossackdom. 

Love of fighting and undaunted courage are as character- 
istic of these Cossacks as they were of the famous Knighthood 
of the Ukraina. They too hated the rich and protected the 
poor, and in the course of such transactions thought them- 
selves quite justified in robbing caravans and kidnapping 
rich Moscow merchants ; whUe as pirates, with their small 
and light boats they were a danger to shipping on the Caspian 
Sea. They even made raids on Persia. They willingly 
served the Tsars of Muscovy, to whom these regions belonged, 
but jealously guarded their own independence ; though it 
was always possible for the Russian Government to come 
to terms with them, and the Tsars made use of them when 
occasion required. 

The Don Cossacks were not a political organisation which 
aimed at upsetting the Russian Government : they were 
simply a people dissatisfied with the economic order of things. 
AU they desired was to be left alone and at liberty to 



make raids on their own account, but these not infrequently 
endangered the Empire itself. 

It was one of these expeditions under the leader Yermak 
which resulted in the conquest of Siberia in 1570. To accom- 
plish this, these brave Cossacks had to overcome tremendous 
difficulties : they found themselves outnumbered by thirty 
to one, but preferred rather to die for the faith and the Tsar 
than to return without having achieved their purpose. 
Yermak conquered the Sibirs and made treaties with other 
tribes, whom he forced to take the oath of allegiance to the 
Tsar and to pay tribute to Muscovy. Unfortunately, this 
bold leader's career came to a sudden end — he was drowned 
while trying to cross a swollen river ; but his work, though 
stopped for a time, was later carried on by others. The 
courage of these pioneers, their passion for adventure, and 
their power of enduring hardship seem almost incredible. 

It was at this period that Tsar Boris Godounov deprived 
by ukase the hitherto more or less free peasants of their 
liberty of movement. They suddenly found themselves the 
property of the master on whose land they were living at the 
time of the promulgation of the order. He did this in order 
to win the favour of the lesser nobility, to whom labourers 
were a necessity. So great was this necessity that a regular 
mania for making serfs seems to have come over the Russian 
nobles. No one was safe ; even visitors were suddenly 
declared serfs, and travellers attacked and kidnapped. All 
unhappy and dissatisfied folk who could manage to do so 
joined the Cossacks, whose liberty and independence seemed 
so enviable ; and, consequently, there on the Don a replica 
of the old Cossack community was founded — there were even 
also Tatar tribes to fight against. 

From this centre the Don Cossacks spread to the south 
and east, where they formed new colonies. Those who had 
settled on the Volga made raids against the neighbouring 
Tatar states ; but when, in 1579, they sacked an important 
town, the Russian Government was obliged to interfere and 
soldiers were sent against them. The Cossacks, warned of this 
danger, fled further east, where many of them settled, and 
again waged successful warfare against Tatars and Sibirs. 


An additional inducement for penetrating still further 
east was given by the Government, which offered colonists 
free grants of land and also gave them permission to form 
themselves into Cossack communities. This meant freedom 
from taxation, besides fishing and hunting rights ; in exchange 
for which privileges they could be called upon at any time 
for the protection of the Empire. 

Nearly a hundred years after Yermak's exploits it is 
again a Don Cossack who becomes famous — Stenka Razin, 
the hero of the Russian peasantry, the very embodiment 
of Cossack tradition. The deeds of Stenka Razin have been 
immortalised in song, and both " Father Don " and " Mother 
Volga " are made to take a personal interest in his welfare. 

He started his career of rebellion in revenge for what he 
considered an insult, and after he had made his name as a 
freebooter and had come to be feared by the authorities he 
assumed the role of protector of the poor. He declared 
war on the Boyars, whose power he wished to break. His 
method of gaining recruits was very simple : he invited 
the soldiers of the Tsar, who had been sent to fight against 
him, to join him, promising them liberty and equality with 
the rest of his followers and a fair share of the booty. He 
not only attacked and robbed rich merchant ships of the 
Volga, but became notorious as a pirate on the Caspian Sea, 
and even made raids into Persia. The Shah went to fight 
against him in person, convinced that his august presence 
would instantly defeat the pirate, but fortune favoured 
Stenka Razin, who took the Shah's son and daughter prisoner. 

He extended his rule from Astrakhan to Simbirsk ; and 
terrible carnage and piUage followed in his wake. After 
having killed off the rich, he used to give the poor a free hand 
in looting their former masters. His career came to an end 
when the untrained rabble which followed him encountered 
the more organised forces of the Tsar. Realising the impos- 
sibility of gaining the victory, Stenka Razin fled to the Don 
settlement in the hope of gaining fresh recruits from amongst 
the Cossacks. His efforts, however, met with no success ; 
he was betrayed and handed over by the Ataman to the 
Government. Taken as a prisoner to Moscow, he was put 


to the torture ; yet even in the hour of suffering his proud 
Cossack soul never flinched. It is reported that he 
encouraged his brother, who was with him, with the follow- 
ing words : " We have ruled, we have enjoyed life ; now let 
us bear up under suffering." When he stepped on to the 
scaffold, he bowed towards the four points of the compass, 
saying : " Proshtchai ! " which means both " Forgive " and 
" Farewell." Not a groan passed his lips ; to the last he 
upheld the Cossack's point of honour, never to let the enemy 
see how a brave man suffers. 

It is still a popular superstition that he is not really dead, 
but that he reappears, under other names, to deliver the 
peasants whenever they are oppressed. 

A century later the downtrodden serfs hailed in 
Pougatchev, who pretended to be the Tsar Peter III., a 
reappearance of Stenka Razin. His success was tremendous, 
though short-lived ; in five days one hundred thousand men 
flocked to his standard, and terrible acts of carnage were 
committed. Pougatchev, like his predecessor, ended his life 
on the scaffold in Moscow. 

Descendants though they be of rebels and fugitives from 
authority, the Cossacks have become reliable instruments for 
the purpose of warfare. To-day they are known as irregular 
cavalry and infantry, and form an integral part of the Russian 
military organisation. They are divided into ten " Voiskos " 
or armies, which derive their names from the districts in 
which they live : Don, Kuban, Terak, Astrakhan, Ural, 
Orenburg, Siberia, Semiryschensk, Usuri, Amur. 

The Amur Cossacks, however, have no blood relationship 
with those of Europe. They are the creation of a far-seeing 
Governor of Siberia, who needed Russian settlers for the 
frontier regions. To provide a population for this strategically 
important borderland he decided to send there thousands 
of convicts, who were to be given all the rights, privileges, 
and conditions of Cossack communities. At the moment of 
embarkation he told these men of the happy future he had 
in store for them ; but they unanimously protested that they 
could not possibly live without wives. The Governor saw the 
reasonableness of this, and had the female convicts brought 


out on show, telling every man to pick out a companion, 
which was done. On arrival at their place of destination 
the Arcliimandrite wisely recognised these marriages as 
valid, even without any further ceremony. 

The central administration of all these ten armies, which 
is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of War, is vested in 
a special board composed of representatives of each Voisko, 
who act in an advisory capacity with regard to all new laws 
affecting the Cossack population. But, in spite of this close 
link with the War Office, the Cossacks have retained their 
own peculiar organisations, social as well as political, which 
conform to the original model of their prototypes of the 

The old communistic ideal is still in vogue, and the lands 
around each of the Stanitsas into which the Voiskos are 
divided, as well as all fisheries, belong to the community. 
The land is held in common by all the members of the group, 
while strangers who wish to live amongst them have to pay 

Every Stanitsa is ruled over by a Stanitsa Ataman, 
but important resolutions have to be discussed in a public 
assembly by all those who have the vote. The general 
administration of each Voisko is quite distinct, and fre- 
quently varies somewhat from that of the others. 

In time of peace the Cossacks, who form a population 
of two and a half millions, carry on every kind of occupation 
which permits of a free, out-of-door existence. These vary 
according to climatic conditions and geographical position. 
To agriculture, which forms the basis of their means of liveli- 
hood, they add, according to climate and geographical condi- 
tions, cattle and horse breeding, vine and bee culture, fishing 
and hunting ; but the exploiting of the mineral wealth of 
their districts the Cossacks rent out to strangers, who also 
own most of the factories. 

In return for special privileges — of which the most impor- 
tant are free grants of land, exemption from Imperial taxation, 
the right of hunting, of distilling spirits, and of brewing beer 
— the whole male population of the Stanitsas is bound to give 
military service. From his eighteenth to his thirty-eighth 



year every Cossack may be called upon at any time to 
take part in war. In times of peace, military service is 
divided into three stages : the first three years in the pre- 
liminary division, the next twelve in active service, and the 
last five in the reserve. Members of cavalry regiments must 
provide their own horses and kit — with the exception of 
arms, which are supplied by the Imperial Government. 

The history of the Cossacks has led to many speculations, 
and it is not easy to appreciate the whole range of their 
influence and importance in 
the past. Coming into exist- 
ence as the result of the dis- 
tracted conditions of southern 
Russia, they were reared and 
fostered in periods of lawless- 
ness and internecine warfare, 
and even to-day political and 
military unrest is for them a 
congenial atmosphere. But no 
longer do they attack their 
neighbours on their own initia- 

tive, instead, they have become 

part of a complex machinery. 

They have been used by the 

Government in every political 

disturbance, whether Pogrom or mere student riot, and 

their " nagaikas " or whips have left their mark on many an 

innocent man. 

That the Government uses the Cossacks under these con- 
ditions by preference is due to the fact that they, as strangers 
from a distance and accustomed to lifelong military discipline, 
have no such compunction as the ordinary soldier, who is a 
conscript and therefore a man of the people and naturally 
averse from shooting down his own kith and kin. 

In the present war Cossacks from even the most Eastern 
confines of the Empire are taking a valiant part. They are 
upholding their reputation for bravery, and we trust that 
they will be true to the best, and only the best, traditions of 

Cross on the Grave of Cossack 




To the student of history it is evident that with reference to 
the ethics of conquest no country has any right to throw 
stones at another. There is a uniformity in the manner in 
which conquered nations have been treated which borders on 

The history of the Baltic provinces of Russia ilhistrates 
this statement : they have been under Polish and Swedish 
and are now under Russian rule. 

There are many points of similarity in experience and con- 
ditions between this country and Ireland, for here, as there, 
the indigenous population and the nobility and middle class 
belong to a different race. The former consists of Esthonians, 
members of the Finnish race, and the Letts, who, with the 
Lithuanians, form a separate branch of the Indo-Germanic 
stock ; while the latter are of German origin. 

In 1160, enterprising merchants from Liibeck, who had 
settled in Wisby on the island of Gothland, began to trade 
with the Livonians on the DUna. Some time later a cour- 
ageous and daring monk from the Augustine monastery at 
Bremen ventured to accompany the merchants on their 
annual expedition to the wild heathen on the distant shores 
of the Baltic. This first missionary' to the Livonians possessed 
all the qualities of a pioneer coloniser, and wielded the sword 
as effectively as the Word. 

There exists an ancient chronicle in which the very drastic 
Christianisation of this country is minutely described, and 
which resembles a war report rather than a missionary report. 
Still, this warrior monk succeeded in establishing a certain 
amount of jurisdiction over the natives. He did not long 



remain alone, for, reassured by his successful attempts to 
civilise the inhabitants, German settlers followed. Many 
of them came from Friesland, Westphalia, Holstein, etc. — 
in fact, from " Lower Saxony." To the inhabitants of 
the Baltic provinces these intruders were all " Saxon " or 
" Saksads." 

Soon the enterprising merchants and priests were joined 
by religious adventurers. It was the period of the Crusades, 
and Christian knights whose energies demanded an outlet 
other than in Palestine found it in these countries. In 
1202 the order of the " Sword Bearers " was established, 
which thirty-six years later united with the order of the 
powerful " Teutonic Knights," who, having been expelled 
from Palestine by the Saracens, had first settled in Venice, 
then in Marienburg, from whence they conquered the heathen 

It was not until 1300 that the three districts, Courland, 
Livonia, and Esthonia, were completely conquered ; nor was 
this accomplished without desperate resistance on the one 
side and relentless severity on the other. In this manner 
the first German "overseas colony " was founded — overseas 
in the sense that the immigrants, whether traders, priests, or 
knights, reached the shores of the Baltic by ship. 

The colonisation of these provinces lacked, however, an 
essential element for a healthy normal development, i.e. 
peasants, for no agriculturists from Germany had ventured so 
far east. No vital fusion was therefore possible between the 
conquering and the conquered race. There was no peasant 
class to act as medium for the Germanisation of the nation. 

In one respect the knights and their descendants, the 
Baltic nobles, have acted differently from most conquerors : 
they not only did not impose their language upon the subject 
races, but actually prevented them from learning German. 
The reason for this impolitic action was the fear lest the people 
of the land might aim at equality. 

The people were left in full possession of their liberty and 
property so long as they voluntarily submitted to the mer- 
chants and knights. On the other hand, the natives were 
deprived of their personal liberty and became " glebae ad- 


script*/' i.e. " tied to the land," if they persisted in resist- 
ance or made common cause with the heathen Lithuanians. 
Some of the Livonian chiefs were recognised as nobles, the 
family of the Von Lieven being among their descendants. 

The conquerors brought civilisation with them ; they 
taught these forest-dweUers agriculture and how to build 
fortresses and cities. The newly conquered lands were 
divided between the order, the Archbishop of Riga, and the 
town of that name founded in 1201, and which by 1260 was 
important enough to join the Hanseatic League. Although 
the knights were celibates, they increased in numbers and 
influence, as their married relations followed in their wake, 
thereby creating a Saxon aristocracy. 

The great political events of Germany found their echo 
in this distant country, and, while towns and knights upheld 
the Guelfs, the bishops sided with the Popes ; yet when 
external foes, whether Lithuanian or Russian, Danish or 
Swedish, had to be resisted, these internal differences were 
put aside and a united front shown to the enemy. 

The Baltic provinces, although separated from Germany 
by alien nations, were considered as part of the Holy Roman 
Empire, and in 1525 the Grand Master of the order, Walter 
von Plettenberg, was confirmed in his dignity as a prince of 
the Empire. At the Diet of Augsburg in 1530 his representa- 
tives ranked next to the Archbishops of Riga and Bremen. 

In the sixteenth century the Germanic element of the 
provinces consisted of nobles, clerics, merchants, and artisans, 
who already, during the lifetime of Martin Luther, accepted 
the principles of the Reformation. As all its members 
became Protestants, the " Order of the Sword Bearers " 
was dissolved, its members becoming lords of the manor. 

By order of the Civic Council of Riga, and with the sanction 
of the Grand Master, the town clerk wrote to Martin Luther 
asking him to encourage and further the spread of evangelical 
teaching in the Baltic provinces. The great Reformer replied 
in an autograph letter which is still in existence, and which 
was addressed " To the Elect and Beloved Friends of God, 
to all Christians in Righe, Revell, Tarbethe (Riga, Reval, 
Dorpat) in Lifland." 


With the introduction of Protestantism all was done to 
raise the intellectual level of the Esthonians and Letts, but 
the policy of keeping the people from learning German was 
maintained until about the middle of the nineteenth century. 
This was a cruel wrong, for the clever and gifted people 
thirsted for that knowledge which only higher education 
could supply and for which the knowledge of German was 
imperative. Still, the literary achievements of Germany 
were offered them through translations, and thus many 
became intellectually Germanised. 

But just at a time when progress and civilisation had 
taken a leap forward a terrible calamity befell the Baltic 
provinces. In 1558 they were invaded by an army of sixty 
thousand Russians and Tatars, with such disastrous results 
that by the end of the sixteenth century hardly one-quarter 
of the population was left in Livonia. At the same time 
Poles and Swedes also invaded the unhappy country, which 
was under no central authority and therefore unable to make 
a successful stand against the enemy. 

In their need and despair the sorely pressed cities and 
nobles sent an appeal for help and protection to the Emperor 
Ferdinand I. at Vienna, but his only action was to send a 
note of warning to the Tsar, who naturally treated it with 
contempt. It was when they realised their utter helplessness, 
and the futility of expecting any assistance from the German 
Empire, that Esthonia joined Denmark, while Livonia and 
Courland submitted to Poland. By a solemn decree, the 
" Privilegium Sigismundi," the King of Poland guaranteed 
to these lands in 1561 all their existing laws and privileges, 
local autonomy, the retention of the German language and of 
their Protestant faith. It is quite pathetic to read in para- 
graph 11 of the document in which Livonia and Courland 
submitted to the King their conditions for surrender, the 
request that he should make their apologies to the Emperor 
" that having been so utterly forsaken by the Empire, they 
had been forced to seek protection from Poland." 

This new rule, however, did not bring prosperity : the 
guarantees sworn to were not kept, and after the death of 
this king a period of violence and oppression followed. It 


was xmfortiinate for Livonia that in her union with Poland 
she had been united to Litliuania, for with the incorporation 
of this principality into tlie Polisli republic new troubles 
arose. The Protestant Livonia had to suffer from the national 
and religious animosity of the Polish Diet. To what extent 
they were oppressed can be judged from the fact that a letter 
of consolation was written to them by the wise and generous 
kmg, Stefan Bathory, but even he was not able to follow 
the dictates of his own conscience or to resist the influence 
of the Jesuits and of the Polish ecclesiastical magnates. 

Conditions grew rapidly worse ; guarantees were ignored, 
and every one of Livonia's cherished rights was attacked. 
Polish influence also had a bad effect on the Baltic aristocracy, 
for serfdom with all its horrors was now introduced. 

Considering the circumstances, it is not to be wondered 
at that the Livonian Estates accepted the invitation of the 
Swedish Chancellor to join his country, which at that time 
was at war with Poland. They met in conference, and on 
28th May 1601 the union with Sweden was ratified in Stock- 
holm. The conditions were practically the same as those which 
had been signed fifty years previously by the Polish king ; 
but it was not until three years later, under King Gustavus 
Adolphus, that Sweden came into actual possession of Livonia. 

At the start Swedish rule was just, though severe ; good 
laws were promulgated, agriculture and education fostered, 
and the religious and ecclesiastical life of the nation was able 
to develop unhindered. Unfortunately, later on, under 
Charles X., other methods were adopted, and under Charles 
XI. the constitution even was altered, and the same king 
confiscated one-sixth of all properties, turning them into 
Swedish Crown lands. 

At the dawn of the eighteenth century Russia waged war 
against Sweden. Peter the Great needed seaports, and also 
desired a hinterland for his new capital. The " Northern 
War," 1700-1721, ended with the Peace of Nystad, 1721, 
Livonia and Esthonia passing from Swedish into Russian 
possession. Peter I. promised for himself and all his heirs 
to respect and uphold all the privileges and institutions of 
the newly acquired provinces ; in fact, it amounted to a 


re-establishment of all their lost rights. Paragraphs 9 and 10 
of the peace contract specify these economic, social, and 
political rights. FuU religious liberty was guaranteed ; bvit 
while the Protestant religion was recognised as the established 
creed of these lands, it was stipulated that the Greek Ortho- 
dox Church should have equally free scope. Courland still 
retained a certain independence as a Polish vassal state, 
until in 1795 it was sold by the last Duke for several million 
roubles to the Empress Catherine. 

After the union with Russia a period of peace and pro- 
sperity followed, bringing with it progress in every sphere of 
life ; only the serfs were still treated as mere chattels. To 
quote an extract from the diary of a nobleman on the occasion 
of his daughter's marriage : "I also give to my beloved 
daughter, as servant, a young man called Hindrick. I give 
him to her as a present, and she is free to do with him as she 
likes : to keep him, to give him away, or to sell him." 

Although Peter the Great had pledged all his successors 
to keep their rights and privileges, the nobility and the cities 
of the provinces humbly petitioned each new ruler graciously 
to confirm these promises. Catherine II., who objected to 
the separatist tendencies of these provinces, made various 
changes and infringed some of their privileges, which, how- 
ever, were made good by her son the Emperor Paul I. On 
the other hand, she utilised the good schools of Riga, etc., 
to supply teachers for Russian schools. 

During the reign of Alexander I. (1801-1825) the Baltic 
provinces enjoyed an uninterrupted period of quiet and pro- 
gress. It was then that the nobles decided to abolish serfdom 
as it existed in its most absolute form. Thus forty-five years 
before Alexander II. issued the manifesto by which Russia's 
serfs were liberated, this policy of progress and humanity 
had been voluntarily adopted by the owners of Esthonian 
and Lettish serfs. They acted judiciously in not giving this 
freedom too suddenly ; but as the people learned to make 
use of their new liberty, more and more privileges were granted 
them, so that by 1862 there was nothing to hinder the 
indigenous population from becoming independent farmers, 
or even landowners. 


The Avise and generous monarch realised that to have a 
satisfied, happy country as a buffer state between Germany 
and Russia would be an asset to his Empire. He fulfilled 
the promise of Peter I. to found a university in Dorpat 
" for the welfare of the Russian Empire in general, and for 
the provinces of Livonia, Esthonia, and Courland in par- 
ticular." So terrible had been the ravages of the Northern 
War, that it was nearly a century before the nobility could 
find the means to endow this university. The Tsar stood in 
very personal and direct relations to the first Chancellor and 
Rector of the new university, whose beneficent influence on 
the Emperor showed itself in many ways. 

Kant — whose first issues of his Critique of Pure Reason 
had been printed in Riga — and Goethe were at that time the 
great leaders of German thought ; it was their advice which 
the Tsar followed in the nomination of professors, all of whom 
were Germans. In the year 1827 a college for the training 
of professors was established in Dorpat, to which the best 
students from Russian universities were sent to continue 
their studies, Pirogov, the famous surgeon and founder of the 
Russian Medical Society, being one of them. 

Gradually, however, the friendly and sympathetic interest 
of the Imperial Government towards Dorpat changed. The 
reactionary tendencies which started with the reign of the 
Tsar Nicholas I. were antagonistic to the more liberal tend- 
encies of that university. " Western poison," as he called it, 
" was to be rendered harmless." The Emperor's prejudice 
against academical autonomy increased still more after the 
success of the French Revolution of July 1830, and also after 
the first Polish insurrection ; and although the loyalty of the 
Baltic students towards Tsar and Empire was never questioned, 
their liberties were more and more curtailed. Nicholas I. saw 
the only safeguard and salvation for his dominion in the 
relentless enforcing of the motto, " One faith, one law, one 
language." No diversity was to be countenanced. 

In 1835, Kraftstroem, a general who during the Napoleonic 
wars had risen from the ranks, was appointed Curator of 
Dorpat. He had no understanding whatever of the intel- 
lectual needs of the students, but issued strict regulations as 


to the length of their hair and the cut of their uniforms, etc. 
At his first visit to the university library he was horrified 
to see books of various dimensions on the same shelf, and 
demanded an immediate rearrangement according to size. 

He was convinced that academic liberty would lead to 
revolutionary activity, and put both " town and gown " under 
a kind of martial law. Never more than four students might 
be seen together in the streets, and not even the professors 
were exempt from control ; also certain subjects, such as 
" European laws," were forbidden to be taught. In spite 
of all this strict discipline, the Emperor issued still more 
stringent regulations : he calculated that three hundred 
students per year would yield a sufficient body of officials, 
judges, and teachers ; therefore more than this number of 
students were not to be admitted. 

The university had attained a high reputation and had 
played an important part in the intellectual, juridical, and 
even military life of the Empire. But it is especially scientists 
and professors whom Dorpat has produced — such as Carl 
Ernst von Baer the distinguished biologist, the astronomer 
W. Struve, von Krusenstjern the explorer, and others. From 
this new seat of culture. Western influences, education, and 
civilisation have radiated which have proved a blessing to 
the whole Empire. Revolutionary and political agitation 
did not find congenial soil amongst her students as it did in 
the Russian universities, and incorruptible judges, conscien- 
tious schoolmasters, and famous medical men have come 
forth from this Germanic centre of learning. 

Russification of the university was, however, introduced ; 
her autonomy was abrogated, and lectures had to be delivered 
in Russian. This was due to the influence of the Slavophiles, 
the nationalist party in Russia, which was opposed to the 
more advanced Western civilisation of the Baltic provinces. 
In spite of his personal friendliness to the inhabitants of 
these provinces, the Emperor Alexander II. was not strong 
enough to resist his reactionary advisers, especially Pobye- 
donostsev, the lay head of the Holy Synod. In 1882 the 
character of the university had completely changed, and in 
1893 even the name Dorpat was altered to that of Yuryev — 


after a small Russian fort built in 1030 in that neighbourhood 
by Yaroslav, the great Prince of Kiev. 

This Russification attacked every sphere of education : 
the university lost its autonomy ; the old Foundation schools 
were deprived of their privileges and endowments ; the 
elementary schools were withdrawn from the control of the 
nobles and clergy. All these institutions were handed over 
to Russian officials, who were often quite uneducated, and 
unfortunately not infrequently drawn from the most unde- 
sirable elements of Russian society. If the general standard 
of civilisation, economic as well as intellectual, had been on a 
higher level in Russia than in the three sister provinces, 
such uniformity might have been justifiable ; but the Baltic 
provinces had enjoyed for centuries educational advantages 
denied to the inhabitants of the Empire into which they had 
been incorporated by Peter the Great. 

Ever since 1840 there had also been deliberate attempts 
made to proselytise the Protestant population, and by 
every means, fair or foul, converts were brought in to the 
Greek Church. The Baltic provinces had been sufiFering 
from famine, and the Russian missionaries promised to the 
needy people free com and free land if they would join the 
Greek Orthodox Church. In one place near Dorpat the 
guUible people were told that there were only two small 
barrels of holy oil left, and that they must therefore hasten 
to be anointed or their chance of receiving land would be lost 
and they would be pressed into the army. Ecstatic prophets 
also arose who proclaimed the advent of a deliverer under 
Michael the Prince, and that then aU the troubles of the people 
would be over. It seems hardly credible, but at that time 
about one hundred and sixty thousand Letts and Esthonians 
were thus " converted " to the Russian faith. When, however, 
these poor dupes demanded the fulfilment of the promises of 
land, etc., the emissaries of the Russian Church denied ever 
having made any such promise, or else implied that the nobles 
and Protestant clergy were preventing their fulfilment. 

One sad result of these false allegations was the artificial 
inflaming of hatred in the hearts of the Esthonians and Letts 
against the upper classes. 


When reaction set in, many of these converts desired to 
return to the Church of their fathers, but then it was too late. 
They were informed that according to law it was impossible 
to leave the State Church, and that, once having become 
members of the Russian Church, they and their descendants 
would have to belong to it for ever. Nevertheless, many of 
these converts attended their former Church, but severe 
punishments were prescribed for those clergy who dared 
to administer the Sacrament to the ex-members of their 

Much mental and moral suffering ensued, and finally 
Alexander II. sent the highly honoured and respected General 
Bobrinski to examine into and investigate the ecclesiastic 
conditions of the Baltic provinces. This Russian official 
stigmatised the action of the State Church as "an official 
deception, bringing shame upon Russia and upon the Greek 
Orthodox Church." Fortunately the humane Tsar did not 
demand the enforcement of the law, but even issued secret 
orders by which the Baltic people obtained some respite, and 
marriages between the converts and Protestants were solem- 
nised in the Evangelical churches, even their children being 
baptised into that faith. 

Some years later, when, under the rule of Alexander III., 
Pobyedonostsev gained increased power, the Lutheran pastors 
who had solemnised these rites or had administered the 
Sacraments in all good faith were suspended from their duties. 
In consequence, over a hundred lawsuits were instituted, 
some of which ended in temporary suspension from office 
of many of the accused, and in some cases they were even 
condemned to imprisonment. 

The conditions thus created through the rigorous enforce- 
ment of the Russian law had very serious moral results : by 
the action of their parents the younger generation had been 
excluded from the Evangelical Church ; as few of them, how- 
ever, wished to be members of the Greek Orthodox Church, 
the majority of the people lost all touch with religion. 

At this time the Russian Government found an ally in its 
campaign against the Baltic provinces in a new national 
party which had sprung up — that of the " Young Esthonians 


and Young Letts," who aimed at emancipation from the 
tutelage and rule of the Germanic element. To begin with 
there were only a few men who, as leaders of this movement, 
were able to wield that power and thus to enjoy the import- 
ance which had hitherto been denied them by the upper 
classes. Later on this movement gained more widespread 
influence through the press, and it was at this point that the 
Russian Government stepped in, taking up the case of the 
apparently downtrodden inhabitants, who, however, soon 
discovered that they had been used merely as pawns in the 
game of the Government. Their ambition to see Esthonian 
and Lettish replace German as the leading languages was not 
fulfilled ; all these were abolished in legislation and schools 
in favour of Russian, and were not reintroduced until 
after the Revolution of 1905. 

The former educational disabilities of the indigenous 
population of these provinces had been removed since 1850 ; 
and as the universities and technical schools, etc., not only 
of the Baltic towns but of the Russian Empire, stood open 
to them, a middle class other than German gradually 

In looking back over the history of these provinces it 
cannot be denied that the Germanic element, especially as 
represented by the barons, has by its haughty exclusiveness 
alienated the native population. 

This exaggerated pride of race, while developing strong 
personality and will power, has at the same time caused much 
suffering to the classes which were considered inferior. This 
feeling of superiority, of belonging to a ruling race, spread 
even to the artisans and working people of German extraction, 
who in their turn came to look down upon the Letts and 

As the whole trend of the educated classes was conser- 
vative, the revolutionary ideals and aspirations prevalent in 
Russia found but little response amongst the Germanic 
element of the provinces. When by the manifesto of October 
1905 the constitution was granted to the Empire, the majority 
of the Baltic nobility and gentry joined the party of the 
" Octobrists," which took its stand solely on the promises 


of the manifesto. This party was less conservative than the 
" Nationalist," but also much less liberal than the " Con- 
stitutional Democrats," and was divided by a great gulf from 
the Radicals, who had many adherents from among the 
Letts and Esthonians. Therefore, when the terrible rising 
broke out, it was directed quite as much against the Russian 
Government as against the landed gentry. 

The estrangement between the indigenous population and 
the upper classes had disastrous results. The revolution in 
Russia gave the signal for a similar in these Baltic provinces ; 
the people seemed swept off their feet, and in a kind of frenzy 
destroyed human and animal life. A Revolutionary Com- 
mittee was organised which ruled for a short period. It 
commandeered money, vehicles, etc., from the landed gentry, 
some of whom acknowledged this impromptu authority and 
were spared, whilst others, in spite of non-resistance, were 
killed — not for any wrong they had done personally, but 
for the sins of their fathers, the owners of the serfs whose 
descendants now felt that their time had come. 

Owing to this fury of destruction thousands of families 
of all classes became destitute : over two hundred castles 
and manor-houses were burnt down, and from one castle 
alone fourteen burning country-houses were counted. 

At this very time the economic conditions of the Baltic 
peasantry were far better than in most other countries — 
especially Russia. Half of the Avhole area of the provinces 
belonged to the peasants as freehold : still, it was only to be 
expected that the promises made by agitators of a more pros- 
perous future after the expulsion of the barons should have 
been believed by the peasants and labourers. But what was 
really astonishing was the madness of destruction and the 
intense hatred indulged in. One party of ladies and gentlemen 
was kept five days as prisoners, and during these days 
was led out ten times to be shot, but rumours that the 
Russian soldiers were coming prevented the execution on each 

All that the landed gentry, the clergy, and the professional 
classes had done for the social and educational welfare of the 
people by means of hospitals and schools, in the care of the 


poor, the widow and the orphan, seemed forgotten. It is 
permissible to see herein a kind of historical retribution ; for if 
the Overman element had been less exclusive, and less afraid 
of the people's claim for social equality, there would have been 
a united and homogeneous population to present a solid front 
to the advance of Russification in its destructive form, and 
to the revolutionary agitator. 

The Russian Government, occupied with repressing the 
revolution in the Empire, could not effectively protect the 
minority in the Baltic provinces. Punitive expeditions were 
sent later on, but the terrible measures used by the military 
authorities to put down the revolution in these provinces have 
opened up a gulf which will perhaps never be bridged over ; 
the bitterness in the hearts of all those who have suffered on 
both sides will rankle for generations. 

Since the revolution the national consciousness of the 
indigenous population has become very pronounced, and 
whereas, not so very many years ago, well-educated Letts 
or Esthonians called themselves " Balten," they to-day 
proudly admit their own nationality. 

Whatever the sins and faults of these descendants of 
Saxon conquerors and colonists, it remains an indisputable 
fact that the Baltic provinces have played an important part 
in the history of Eastern Europe, and that they have served 
as a link between West and East. Three great Powers, 
Poland, Sweden, and Russia, have at different times fought 
for their possession, realising what an important asset they 
represented, not only economically but geographically, and 
therefore politically. 

The high state of civilisation, however, which the pro- 
vinces enjoy is due to the Germanic element, which has 
proved itself to be possessed of constructive virility and of a 
marvellous capacity for retaining its own peculiar character- 
istics. It is an interesting phenomenon that the nobUity 
managed to eliminate absolutely the Polish and Lithuanian 
families which had, during two generations, settled in the 
provinces, whUe the Swedish nobility and citizens became 
absorbed into the Germanic element. Thanks to this con- 
sciousness of forming a political unit by themselves, these 


provinces have never been absorbed by the different States to 
which they at one time or another have belonged. 

As to the general attitude of the upper classes of the 
Baltic provinces towards the Russian Empire — they feel 
themselves to be first Lieflanders, Esthlanders, or Cour- 
landers, and only then Russians. We find a parallel case in 
the Scottish, Irish, and Welsh, who are British but not English. 
There are, however, many members of Baltic families who 
have become thoroughly Russianised and who have been 
so for generations, and it is often only by their typically 
Baltic names that their origin can be traced. Even if on 
the whole there has not been any special love for Russia, 
there has always been loyalty to the person of the Tsars, 
in whose entourage great numbers of the Baltic nobility have 
filled important posts : to come across Lord Chamberlains, 
Masters of the Ceremonies, Adjutants, bearing German 
names is a common occurrence. Also they have ably repre- 
sented the Russian Empire in the diplomatic and consular 
services. In the annals of Russian wars, too, many Baltic 
names figure — to mention only Prince Barclay de Tolly, a 
Livonian, the commander-in-chief of the Russian forces in 
the Napoleonic wars ; General von Todleben, the gallant 
defender of Sevastopol. In this war large numbers of Baltic 
men are wholeheartedly doing their duty to Tsar and Empire 
both on sea and on land. 

Even during periods of acute oppression the Baltic gentry 
have never desired a change of ruler, and at the time of the 
revolution in 1905, some of their leaders expressed it 
publicly that their looks were altogether turned eastward. 
Their grievances have always been the infringement of 
guaranteed laws and privileges and the arbitrary methods 
by which Russification was introduced and carried out. 
They bitterly resent the attempts of the Government to treat 
the Baltic provinces as on a par with the fifty odd pro- 
vinces of the Empire, which latter are districts for purely 
administrative purposes. But in spite of the fact that they 
owe their intellectual and spiritual life to Germany, they 
have not desired a political union with that country, nor 
does their attitude of grateful recognition of all they owe to 


German civilisation interfere witli their loyalty to the Russian 
throne ; and yet it is just this twofold loyalty which has been 
made a reproach to them — Pan-slavistic Russians call them 
" Germans," while Letts and Esthonians blame them for 
their staunch support of the Russian Emperor. 

It must, however, be borne in mind that Courland is next- 
door neighbour to Prussia, and that in Baltic seaports large 
numbers of naturalised Germans live, to whom the preceding 
statement as to loyalty does not necessarily apply. The 
war with Germany is a severe test not only to the Baltic 
peoples but also for the Russian Government : there is cause 
for fear that having sown the wind during the last sixty 
years, it may now reap the whirlwind. 



Anyone who has not made a special study of the history of 
Poland must find it somewhat bewildering, so many conflict- 
ing currents have played a part in whirling her along the 
stream of time. 

Very little is known about the early history of Poland, 
but by the time she entered the arena of European history 
(900 A.D.) the differentiation of the Slavonic races had been 
accomplished. Five of the tribes that inhabited the lands 
east of Saxony and of Prussia were then under the rule of a 
sixth — the Polyans, or " People of the Plain." This tribe 
was either more virile than the others or else was ruled by 
specially energetic princes who were able to obtain supremacy 
for the Polyans and to impose their name on the new State. 

The first distinct personality which stands out among 
the rulers of Poland is Mieszko, Prince of Kuyavia (930-992), 
of the dynasty of the Piasts, which also supplied rulers to 
Masovia and to Silesia. In order to save Poland from a 
German invasion he accepted Christianity in 966, thereby 
preventing the Germans from entering his country on the plea 
of Christianising it. 

Already before this king's conversion Christianity had 
been spreading in a healthy, natural way. Disciples of Cyril 
and Methodius, the apostles of the Slavs, had introduced it 
among their blood relations, the Poles ; thus the first Polish 
Christians were members of the Eastern Church. The king, 
however, desirous of conciliating his powerful German neigh- 
bours, joined the Western Church for political reasons. 

His action was destined to have far-reaching results, both 
good and evil : good, because her allegiance to the Church of 

369 24 


Rome drew Poland into the Occidental sphere of culture, and 
this again led to her being vitaUy influenced by the events 
which took place in Western Europe ; evil, because the 
difference in creed between the Slavs of this country and those 
of other lands caused much suffering and even bloodshed 
later on. 

Mieszko was followed by Boleslav (992-1025), who was the 
first to assume the royal title and to be crowned King of 
Poland. Information as to the internal condition of the 
country during this period is scanty ; but it is safe to assume 
that Poland was ruled by an autocratic king, and that 
the nobility was divided into two sets — the Vladykas, who 
were descendants of the chiefs of conquered tribes, and the 
Szlachta. Foreign knights also seem to have taken service 
under King Boleslav. The chief ambition of the earlier kings 
of the dynasty was to unite all the Western Slavs into one 
great kingdom, and to gain support and influence by inter- 
marriage \vith the ruling houses of the powerful neighbouring 
States — whether Russian, German, or Austrian. Thus at one 
time the daughter of Yaroslav of Kiev was Queen of Poland. 

King Boleslav " the Rash " was a fair specimen of his 
time and of his people, who are described as being " heroic, 
rash, anarchical, wanting in political tact and in the spirit 
of organisation." They lacked the power of subordination, 
of co-ordination, and of co-operation ; their ideal being 
unlimited liberty. 

The various princes of the other Polish principalities 
recognised in 1122 Boleslav, " Crooked Mouth," as their king. 
He instituted the first crusade against the heathen Pomera- 
nians, in the hope of gaining at the same time possession 
of the estuary of the Vistula. In this, however, he did not 
succeed, and the work of converting the Pomeranians was 
carried on by the Bishop of Bamberg. German influence 
began to penetrate also in Poland, and the Poles quickly 
assimilated German customs and readily responded to the 
intellectual and spiritual influence emanating from the new 
monastic centres which sprang up all over the country. 

Although many Polish students went to Paris to study, 
life in Poland remained as simple and as truly Slavonic as 


ever — in fact, very much as it was in Kievite Russia. Here, 
as there, the king was surrounded by his friends, or Drujina, 
with whom he feasted or went into battle, as occasion 
demanded. The peasants were still free men, although the 
nobles had made several attempts to enslave them ; but 
already at that period a class of serfs had begun to develop 
as the lowest stratum of society : most likely its numbers 
were recruited from amongst the captives of war. 

As the result of a great rising in 1171 the youngest brother 
of the late king was placed on the throne. This ruler, 
Casimir II., in order to become independent of the magnates 
to whom he owed his power, conferred special privileges on 
the clergy, thus raising them into another Estate. In 1180 
the first Diet was assembled, and the special privileges granted 
to both the nobility and the clergy during that session resulted 
at a later period in the forging of a chain by which the kings 
were rendered helpless. 

While the two privileged Estates grew in power, the people 
of the land, who had to pay the taxes, were more and more 
oppressed until their economic condition became desperate. 
The monasteries, realising the need for a more independent 
and consequently more productive peasantry, introduced 
Oerman colonisation on Church lands — a reform which had 
far-reaching consequences during the thirteenth and four- 
teenth centuries. Although in the latter century the 
number of these villages had risen to one hundred and forty- 
nine, the agricultural population was still insufficient, and 
Polish peasants were granted land according to "German law," 
by which their economic condition was greatlj' improved. 

The population was mostly agricultural, but in the thir- 
teenth century cities were founded and such important 
towns as Gnesen the capital, Posen, Cracow, Kalish, and 
later on Lublin, developed. Into these towns German 
organisation and methods of administering law and order 
were introduced ; but although the Teutonic language and 
civilisation exercised considerable influence, the Germans 
themselves were far from popular. 

At this period, in Poland as in Russia, it was the custom 
when a ruler died for his sons to divide the inheritance among 


themselves ; in Russia, whoever bore rule in Kiev had supre- 
macy over the others ; in Poland, whoever ruled over Cracow. 
The kingdom had gradually come to consist of a number 
of principalities ; the most important of these were Silesia, 
Masovia, Kuyavia, Pomerania, and Great and Little Poland. 
These principalities, however, were in a perpetual state of 
rivalry and strife, and every time a throne became vacant 
there was an outburst of quarrelling and revolt. The princes 
never united except to resist a common foe. 

That Poland kept her independence under these circum- 
stances was due, not to any effort on the part of her princes, 
but merely to the unsatisfactory internal conditions of those 
nations which surrounded her. 

The Mongol hordes which had ruined Russia also poured 
into Poland ; they devastated the country and laid low the 
cities of Cracow, Breslau, Sandomir, etc. This calamity 
united her princes, who bonded together to resist the Mongols, 
with whom they contested the ground inch by inch. At the 
battle of Lignitz in 1241 the Tatars were beaten and the great 
wave of the threatening invasion exhausted itself, and Poland, 
by thus acting as breakwater, saved the rest of Europe. 

She emerged from this awful struggle wounded and bleed- 
ing, but still in possession of life and independence ; whereas 
Kievite Russia became a vassal State of the Khan. 

The Tatar hordes continued for many years to make 
annual raids on Poland. It is recorded that during one 
of these raids which lasted only a fortnight fifty thousand 
people were taken into captivity to Turkey and Asia Minor, 
where flourishing markets for European slaves were regularly 
held. Under these circumstances it is not to be wondered 
at that Poland was reduced to a state of economic ruin, that 
a new beginning had to be made, and that all her institutions 
had practically to be built up again. 

The moral effect of these terrible years was no less disas- 
trous. The whole nation was exhausted ; the people lost aU 
love for labour and many fled into the monasteries, which 
consequently flourished ; the saints lived a life of indolence 
behind convent walls ; while the sinners who remained in the 
world found relief from the strain of their ghastly experiences 


in giving themselves up to enjoyment. The common people 
became careless and coarse ; the nobUity frivolous, extra- 
vagant, and ignorant. 

In the fourteenth century, under King Vladislav Lieczek, 
Poland seems to have been given a new lease of life, politically 
as well as nationally. He fought persistently and successfully 
against the Germans, and from this time onwards the muni- 
cipal registers were no longer written in the German language. 
He married his son to the daughter of Gedemin, Prince of 
Lithuania, and thus prepared the way for a future alliance 
between the two countries. He also moved his capital from 
Gnesen to Cracow, where he was crowned King of Poland in 
1319. With the exception of Masovia and a part of Kuya- 
via, he united all Poland, both Great and Little, under one 
sceptre, and in 1331 the first " General Diet," representing 
all the various parts of the new kingdom, was held. 

This successful ruler was followed by his son, Casimir III. 
(1333-1370), who had spent the greater part of his life 
at the Court of his brother-in-law the King of Hungary. 
Casimir the Great, as he was called later on, was the first 
ruler to come to the throne without having to fight for it. 
He tried to regulate the vexed question of succession once 
for all, but, unwittingly, only paved the way for future 
trouble, i.e. for disastrous rule by elected kings. During 
his reign Poland prospered in every way. He did his utmost 
to consolidate the kingdom, to which he added Galicia. This 
principality had since the tenth century formed part of the 
great principality of Kiev, and had been ruled over by Kievite 
princes. It was known as " Tchervonnaya Rus," or " Golden 
Russia," and in the twelfth century had become an inde- 
pendent principality with Halitch on the Dniester as its 
capital. But at a later date her prince owed allegiance to the 
Prince of Suzdal, who had then assumed pre-eminence over 
the other Russian principalities. One of these princes, 
however, Roman of Volhynia (1188-1255), not only refused 
to acknowledge his cousin of Suzdal as overlord, but himself 
assumed the title of " Lord of All the Russias." 

When the Mongol hordes were devastating Russia it seemed 
possible at one time that Danielo, the brave son of Roman, 


would be able to deliver his people out of the hands of the 
terrible Tatar ; but in the end he too was obliged to submit 
to the Khan in order to save his country from devastation. 

Galicia was threatened on every side by Hungarian 
Mongols and Lithuanians ; but when political necessity forced 
the princes of Galicia to seek a rapprochement in order to 
escape annexation, they sought it with Poland. The Poles 
at least were of the same blood, spoke the same language, 
and had the same customs. In 1325 the union was concluded 
under Casimir, but, in order to arrive at a settlement which 
would satisfy the other claimants, Hungary and Lithuania, he 
had to grant the supreme suzerainty over Galicia to Hungary 
and cede part of Volhynia and all Podolia to Lithuania ; yet 
Polish influence became paramount, and Poland virtually 
obtained possession of the whole length of the Vistula. Many 
Poles colonised Galicia, which became a stronghold for the 
king, who ruled over the united kingdom with firmness, fore- 
sight, and wisdom. 

Casimir the Great was succeeded bj'' his nephew, Louis, 
King of Hungary, who, after his coronation in Cracow, 
speedily returned to his own country, entrusting the regency 
of the kingdom of Poland to his mother Elizabeth, under 
whose rule disorder soon became rife. Conscious of her 
incapacity, the Queen quitted the country, but was forced 
by her son to return. After her death a triumvirate, under 
the presidency of the Bishop of Cracow, ruled for a time ; 
but the disorder only increased, and a rebellion broke out, 
during which King Louis died. 

The Estates refused to have another Hungarian absentee 
as king, but declared their willingness to recognise as their 
ruler any one of the daughters of the late king who would 
agree to take up her residence in Poland. The choice fell 
upon Hedwig, a girl aged thirteen. To begin with, the 
Queen-mother refused to let her go on account of her youth ; 
but when the Poles threatened to withdraw their offer, consent 
was given and Hedwig crowned " King " of Poland in 1384. 
The next question to be settled was the marriage of the 
young ruler, as Wilhelm of Austria, to whom she was betrothed, 
was not acceptable to the Poles. Policy, and not sentiment. 


prevailed, and she was married to Yagiello, the Grand Duke 
of Lithuania. 

The Lithuanians, whose territory occupied the plains, 
forests, and lakes between the Baltic and the lower course of 
the Dvina and the estuary of the Vistula, had in the course 
of centuries developed into a nation by fusion with the neigh- 
bouring tribes, the Semgals and Jmuds, whose neighbours 
on the other side were the Prussians and the Letts. In 
early times the principality, or Grand Duchy, had come into 
contact with Poland and Russia, even to the extent of paying 
tribute to the Prince of Polotsk. But in the thirteenth cen- 
tury, when Lithuania steps out into the full light of history, 
the many small independent principalities of which she con- 
sisted were perpetually at war with the Russians. The 
Lithuanian princes endeavoured to gain in power and territory 
at the expense of the disintegrating State of Kiev, which was 
just then passing through that distressing phase, the " appan- 
age system." 

Mendovg, one of the Lithuanian princes, succeeded in 
uniting all the other princes with him in fighting against 
Russia ; he succeeded in making himself master of Vitepsk, 
Polotsk, and Smolensk. The same reason which in 966 had 
influenced Boleslav to be baptised now constrained Mendovg 
to become a Christian — viz., to deprive the mighty Teu- 
tonic Order of an excuse for conquering his land in order to 
Christianise it, and that he and his country might be spared 
the terrible consequences of such an invasion. 

After his death in 1263 strife and disunion reigned once more 
among the princes, and a century elapsed before Mendovg's 
ambitions for his country were realised. In course of time 
the power and influence of his successors increased and spread 
towards east and south. In Southern Russia the old " Kie- 
vite " or " Little " Russia had become a distinct nation 
having no vital connection with Muscovy. After their 
country had been ruined by the Mongol invasion, some of 
the princes fled into Galicia, and others accepted the protec- 
tion of the Lithuanian princes, of whom Gedemin, Olgerd, 
Kesturd, and Vitovt were strong, capable rulers. 

Gedemin (1315-1337) annexed all " Little Russia," or 


*' Ukraina," which consisted at that time of Volhynia, Podolia, 
Kiev, Mohilev — in fact, all the lands which had been ruled 
over in earlj- days hj the Kievite princes, and which might be 
called the cradle of the Russian Empire. The town-provinces 
and principalities of Grodno, Polotsk, Vitepsk, Briansk, 
Smolensk, became vassal-states of Lithuania. 

As the conquered lands and new vassal-states were on a 
much higher level of civilisation and were also superior in 
size and population, Lithuania gradually adopted the Russian 
language and civilisation ; indeed, the conquerors became 
influenced by the conquered to such an extent that Lithuania 
became a second Russia. After Gedemin's death his vast 
territories were ruled over by his sons, who agreed in 1345 to 
unite the whole of Lithuania under the rulership of Olgerd, 
their brother, who had been baptised into the Greek Orthodox 
Church, while his brothers had joined the Church of Rome. 
Thus almost from the start these rival Churches were repre- 
sented in Lithuania, which fact led, later on, to complica- 
tions. At that time Lithuania extended from the Baltic to 
the Black Sea. 

When Olgerd came into power he made it his aim to over- 
throw the rule of the Tatar and to protect the shores of the 
Black Sea against the destructive Asiatic invasions, and also 
to destroy the Teutonic Order. Had he been successful, it 
would have meant for Russia an open road into both the 
west and south of Europe. But in order to achieve such a 
gigantic task a nation must be united upon one solid basis, 
and unfortunately such was not the case with Lithuania 
and her conquered lands. Besides, the same dynastic wars 
were being carried on among the Lithuanian princes as were 
weakening Russia. 

By the fourteenth century, however, Lithuania had 
become the most important State in Eastern Europe, greater 
and mightier by far than either Poland or Muscovy ; and 
this was her position when, in 1380, Yagiello, Olgerd's son, 
married Hedwig, " King " of Poland. The fusion of the 
two Slavonic nations brought about by this marriage led to 
Poland-Lithuania becoming one of the most important 
Powers of mediaeval times. This union was, to begin with, 


only in the nature of a " personal " union. Nevertheless, 
it proved exceedingly profitable to both countries, more 
especially to Lithuania, which was exhausted by the terrible 
wars with the Teutonic Order — that arch-foe of the Eastern 
Slavs. Lithuania had therefore nothing to lose and much to 
gain by such a union ; but it was a distinct advantage for 
the Russian lands, because by this time Poland had become a 
thoroughly Western State. 

In order to marry Hedwig, Yagiello, who was still a heathen, 
had to be baptised into the Church of Rome, and, under the 
name of Vladislav II., with the zeal of a new convert, he 
compelled those of his subjects who were still heathen to 
follow his example ; thus thirty thousand of them were 
" converted " and baptised en masse. He also granted 
special privileges to the Lithuanian nobles who joined the 
Church of Rome. This increased the power of that Church 
in Lithuania to the detriment of the Greek Orthodox Church. 
He tried, however, to act justly towards his Russian subjects, 
especially those of the Ukraina, to whom he granted privileges 
equal with those of the Roman Catholic Lithuanians. 

The king-consort had no easy task before him. New 
wars broke out, especially with the Teutonic Order, which was 
at that time the first military Power in Europe — indeed, the 
only Power that had efficient artillery and that was able 
to mobilise within a fortnight. The whole trend of policy 
of Eastern Europe was influenced by Yagiello's action, for 
by the Christianisation of the heathen Lithuanians the Teu- 
tonic Order lost its raison d'etre. Therefore, in future cam- 
paigns with Poland-Lithuania, they could no longer reckon 
on the support of either the Pope or of zealous Christian 
knights. Crusades had no longer any justification. 

This union of the two countries led to a great increase 
in power and prestige for Poland ; for by it not only Galicia, 
but also the Hospodars of Moldavia and Wallachia, as well 
as the Voyevods of Bessarabia and Siebenbiirgen, became 
vassals of the King of Poland instead of as hitherto of the 
King of Hungary. 

In the religious sphere, on the other hand, this union con- 
tained the germs of future complications, not only religious 


but political ; for both Constantinople and, later, Moscow, 
found a point d'appui witjiin the realm. 

As Stadthalter of Lithuania Yagiello had appointed his 
brother, who, however, had soon to make way for his ambitious 
cousin Vitovt. Prince of Grodno, a true statesman, energetic 
and far-seeing. He aimed at becoming Grand Duke of 
Lithuania and at severing the union with Poland, in both of 
which schemes he succeeded, by first inciting the Teutonic 
Knights to invade Poland and then by assisting Yagiello to 
drive them back. In return for this service he was granted 
the dignity he courted. His ambition, however, rose still 
higher : he did all he could to secure the supremacy for 
Lithuania in order to reconstitute and then reign over the 
former empire of Vladimir of Kiev. He extended his power 
so far into Russia that, with the exception of Suzdal and 
Ryazan and of Pskov and Novgorod (where, however, he had 
great influence), the whole country was practically under his 
sway ; for Muscovy was only beginning to develop into a 
State when Lithuania was at the zenith of her power. 

In fact, at this period the Grand Duke of Lithuania and 
the Khan of the Golden Horde divided between them the 
overlordship of all Russia. 

Vitovt's ambition, however, suffered a crushing blow 
when his army and that of the Tatars, both of which had been 
menacing Muscovy, turned upon each other instead, and in 
the battle which ensued Vitovt's forces were utterly shattered. 
Whereupon the victorious Tatar returned home, and Muscovy 
escaped without a scratch. Finally Vitovt concluded peace 
with his cousin the King of Poland, and swore fealty to him. 
He promised to support him, and the same sort of arrange- 
ment was made later between the Lithuanian Boyars on 
the one hand and the Polish magnates on the other. This 
was called the " Union of Radom," and by it the " personal " 
union of 1386 became a political one. It had also been 
arranged that after the death of YagieUo no King of Poland 
should be elected without the knowledge of Lithuania. 

This new arrangement and alliance was put into force 
against the Teutonic Order, and a decisive battle was fought 
at Tannenberg in 1410. It was less a war of rulers than of 


races : the question to be settled once for all was whether 
Teuton or Slav was to rule in Eastern Europe. The casting 
vote went to the Slav — the Order was defeated. According 
to Professor Ranke, " the King of Poland had become master 
of the Vistula ; it depended upon his will, and upon circum- 
stances which were likely to influence him, whether the 
Teutonic Order should or should not be wiped out." Yagiello, 
however, allowed it to go on existing, as he was not able to 
make the most of his victory, and his armies, scattered all 
over the country, expended themselves in acts of useless 
destruction, besides being decimated by epidemics. 

At this time the religious question began to create trouble 
in consequence of the unwise preference shown to Roman 
Catholics. Until 1413 the Russian princes and nobles had 
been perfectly satisfied with their position, though all admini- 
strative posts were closed to members of the Greek Ortho- 
dox Church, to which the majority of Lithuanian Russians 
belonged. To induce them to change their religion they 
were now promised equal privileges with those enjoyed by 
the Szlachta, or Polish nobility. 

This impolitic propaganda led to great dissatisfaction, and 
caused many of the princes and Boyars to leave Lithuania 
in order to take service with the Tsar of Muscovy ; also it 
alienated the peasantry. 

To counteract this tendency to drift into Muscovy, the 
Lithuanian ruler summoned a Synod in 1415, which declared 
the Lithuanian Greek Orthodox Church independent of that 
in Russia, and placed it as a fact under the direct jurisdiction 
of the Metropolitan of Kiev. In the year 1418 the Metro- 
politan of Kiev travelled to Constance to offer submission to 
the Pope of Rome on condition that the Greek Orthodox 
Christians of Poland and Lithuania should retain their old 
Byzantine ritual and the use of the Slavonic language. This 
proposal, however, was not accepted by the Council. 

In course of time the Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights 
received fresh reinforcements, for Germany was horrified at 
the defeat of the Order and indignant with the Poles for 
having called in the help of thirty thousand Tatars. How- 
ever, a Muscovite invasion, together with many other circum- 


stances, finally led to a truce being made between the Order 
and Poland. 

With the death of Vitovt in 1430 the glory of Lithuania 
began to wane, and from that date her history is merged in 
that of Poland. The Russian population, impatient of 
PoUsh-Lithuanian rule, began to look to Muscovy for relief ; 
and in order to conciliate his Russian subjects Yagiello 
granted (1432) to the Little Russian nobles the same privi- 
leges as those enjoyed by the Polish and, since 1413, also 
by the Lithuanian nobles, the nobility of the three countries 
recognising each other as equals. 

Under Yagiello, Poland reached the zenith of her power, 
but unfortunately he was not successful in his reorganisation 
of the internal affairs of the country, and, as he continually 
created new privileges for the aristocracy, Poland became an 
oligarchical monarchy. 

On the death of Yagiello -\'ladislav the magnates chose his 
eldest son, a lad ten years of age, to be king. During the 
minority of Vladislav III. certain magnates and the capable 
but unscrupulous Bishop Olesnicki of Cracow ruled so success- 
fully on his behalf, that the prestige of Poland was consider- 
ably heightened. It was due to the influence of this Bishop, 
a statesman of the first order, that the power of the Church 
was securely established, and from that time forth Poland 
became her champion. 

In 1440 the boy king was offered the vacant crown of 
Hungary, which he accepted, and there seemed every prospect 
of the creation of an Eastern Roman Catholic empire. During 
the king's residence in Hungary the power of the magnates 
increased more and more, and, as many important decisions 
were suspended pending the king's return to Poland, internal 
disorder became rife. The finances of the kingdom were also 
crippled by the expenses incurred by the king in his Hungarian 
undertaking, and in the war against Turkey, which partook 
of the nature of a crusade. It was in this campaign, at the 
battle of Varna, in the year 1440, that the young King of 
Poland and Hungary was killed in action. 

His death led to a period of anarchy, and during the 
interregnum of three years which followed the oligarchical 



power of the magnates and prelates rapidly developed to an 

alarming extent. They offered the crown to their late king's 

brother, Casimir, who, after the murder of his predecessor, 

had been proclaimed Grand Duke by the Lithuanians, and 

as such had behaved as if he were an independent sovereign, 

even making war upon Masovia, a Polish vassal-state. He 

knew that the magnates had no other generally acceptable 

candidate for the throne, and therefore felt himself in a position 

to dictate terms. His terms for the restitution of Podolia 

and Volhynia to Lithuania were 

not agreed to at first by the Polish 

magnates, but finally, after three 

years, they gave in, and in 1447 

Casimir was crowned King of 

Poland, only to find that the 

magnates had no intention of 

keeping their promises. As an 

act of retaliation the king refused 

to confirm their privileges, and 

this led to an impasse which for 

six years kept matters in a state 

of continual disorder. 

It was not until the Polish 
opposition, headed by the Bishop 
of Cracow, threatened to depose 
the king, that a compromise was 
arrived at, according to which Podolia remain under Polish 
rule and Volhynia was joined to Lithuania. Casimir's pre- 
occupation with his political and dynastic ambitions in 
Bohemia and Hungary was taken advantage of by the Turks, 
who seized the opportunity to occupy Moldavia and to 
conquer the estuaries of the Danube and the Dnieper. 
Muscovy at the same time was increasing in power and 
trying to come into closer union with the Russian princes 
in the Polish-Lithuanian kingdom. 

King Casimir (1447-1492) made an end of the oligarchical 
system and inaugurated constitutional rule with the aid of the 
lesser nobility or Szlachta. In 1448 he created the Chamber 
of Deputies and instituted the General Diet of the realm ; 

Battle-Axe (17th Century). 


yet oven this king failed to establish the royal power on a 
permanent basis. It always remained a personal matter, 
and the character and personality of the king played a greater 
role than the office itself. The prelates and magnates feared 
Casimir and envied the Szlachta, who in their turn tried 
to curry favour with the king. It ended in the oligarchy 
of the former reigns being replaced by a despotic anarchy, 
with a corresponding loss of prosperity and power to the 

The most important political event of the reign of Casimir 
was a war of thirteen years' duration with the Teutonic Order. 
Their perpetual feuds were finally settled at the Peace of 
Thorn in 1466. The Grand Master became a vassal of the 
King of Poland, and was accorded equal rights with those 
enjoyed by the Duke of Masovia ; while, on their side, Poles 
were permitted to become members of the Order. As a result 
of this treaty, Western Prussia, wdth that famous castle of 
the Order, Marienburg, besides Thorn and Dantzig, came 
into the possession of Poland. This reunion of the Prussian 
Slavs with their Polish brethren evoked much satisfaction, 
and aroused hopes of a permanent union of the Western Slav 
nations — hopes which, unfortunately, were never realised, 
as the newly acquired territories were still left too much under 
the rule of their former masters. 

What complicated matters still more for the King of 
Poland was the fact that several of the Russian princes were 
plotting against him with the object of exchanging Lithuanian 
for Russian rule. To frustrate their design, on the death of 
the Prince of Kiev he turned the principality into a Voye- 
vodstov or province. 

The Grand Duke of Muscovy, in order to further his own 
ends, encouraged an active religious propaganda in Lithuania 
in favour of the Russian Church, and especially aimed at a 
reunion between the See of Kiev and that of Moscow. In 
the year 1501 Ivan III. nearly succeeded in taking the much- 
coveted Smolensk, and would have quite succeeded but for 
the Livonian Knights of the Sword, who came to the assistance 
of the Poles and the Lithuanians. 

In spite of these internal difficulties, Lithuania and Poland 


showed a united front to Muscovy, which had been steadily 
gaining the ascendancy over the other Russian principalities, 
while Lithuanian influence was waning. These two rivals 
were in a constant state of contention over the possession 
of the much-coveted cities and principalities of Western 
Russia, which were alternately taken and retaken. Ivan III. 
started a consistent policy of territorial and national 
aggrandisement, which was carried on by his successors 
at the expense of Lithuania : he looked upon himself as 
the legitimate heir of Vladimir Monomach, and laid claim 
to all the Old Russian lands, especially Kiev. In the hope 
of settling the vexed question between the two countries, 
Ivan married his daughter to Alexander, Grand Duke of 
Lithuania ; but the arrogance of the Tsar, who had just 
assumed the title of " Ruler of All Russia," and who 
did not abate one whit of his claims, only increased the 
difficulty, which finally resulted in war between the father- 
in-law and the son-in-law, the latter being soon after chosen 
King of Poland. Ultimately, in 1504, the title assumed by 
Ivan III. was recognised by Alexander, who had meanwhile 
become King of Poland. Although the Tsar's ambition 
was not entirely fulfilled, his territory was increased by a 
tremendous area, so that the frontier of Muscovy now nearly 
reached as far as the Dnieper. During the next fifty years, 
war, alternating with armistices which lasted for six, seven, 
and eleven years, invariably ended in Muscovy's acquiring 
more and more of the Old Russian lands. 

On the death of Casimir, his fourth son, Alexander, was 
immediately proclaimed Grand Duke by the Lithuanians, 
a proceeding contrary to the terms of the union ; while the 
Poles elected as their King the Bishop of Cracow (1492-1500), 
the sixth son of the late king. 

This ruler carried on his father's policy with regard to the 
weakening of the power of the magnates, and in 1493 he issued 
a preliminary constitution, which was established three years 
later under the title of the " Statute of Petrikau." This 
statute has been designated the Magna Charta of Poland — 
that is to say, of the nobility, for the position of the citizens 
and peasants only became worse and worse, the latter suffer- 


ing especially from the limitations set upon their liberty of 

An unsuccessful campaign against the Hospodar of Mol- 
davia and a Turkish invasion helped to weaken the country ; 
moreover, the new Grand Master of the Teutonic Order refused 
to take the oath of fealty. After the king's death his brother, 
the Grand Duke of Lithuania, was elected king, and to him 
this union with Poland was of great importance. 

Alexander had been elected King of Poland by an arrange- 
ment of the Polish-Lithuanian senators, who also decided 
that in the future the King of Poland should, ipso facto, 
be also Grand Duke of Lithuania. 

Under Alexander oligarchical rule was again reinstated, 
with the result that Poland was once more in the throes of 
anarchy. Attempts were made to stem it in 1504, and again 
in 1505, when the Constitution of Radom was passed, by 
which it was fixed that no new laws should be enacted without 
the consent of both the Senate and the " Landboten." These 
latter were representatives of the nobility elected by the 
Provincial Assemblies, to which they had to report the 
decisions arrived at by the General Diet, which were not 
infrequently repudiated by the Provincial Assemblies. The 
fact was that the whole legislative machinery was unwieldy ; 
and that it had become so was due to the fact that each and 
all of the nobles desired to have, and insisted upon having, 
a full share in the ruling of the country. Only a king of 
very strong character could expect to keep up even a sem- 
blance of independence under such circumstances. 

After the death of Alexander his fifth brother was elected 
king, and from 1506 to 1548 Poland was blessed with an 
energetic and capable ruler in the person of Sigismund I. It 
was high time, for the political difficulties besetting the 
kingdom were great. Sigismund, however, was able to cope 
successfully both with the foes without and the wrangling 
parties within his realm. During his reign Poland passed 
through the most glorious period of her history. 

His queen, being an Italian of the house of Sforza, drew 
many foreigners to her Court. She favoured the Refor- 
mation, the influence of which was beginning to be felt 


in Poland and in the lands subject to the Teutonic Order ; 
nevertheless, a royal edict prohibiting the circulation of 
Martin Luther's writings was issued and an Inquisitorial 
Commission instituted. But students returning to Poland 
from German universities were very successful in spreading 
the new doctrine among the people, and all attempts to quell 
the movement at this time were unsuccessful. The clergy 
of Lesser Poland repudiated their allegiance to Rome, and a 
German Protestant school was established at Vilna. Pro- 
testantism, however, gained no firm hold upon the Polish 
nation, which remained a Roman Catholic country. 

In the middle of the sixteenth century religious matters 
again claimed miTch attention. An attempt was made to 
create a national Church, the celibacy of the clergy was to be 
abolished and the Sacrament of the Holy Communion was 
to be given to the laity in both kinds, and the services to be 
read in the " vulgar tongue," instead of in Latin. Such an 
arrangement would have led to closer union with the Greek 
Church and would have been politically advantageous. But 
unfortunately the king delayed coming to a decision on this 
vital question, and when, after the Council of Trent, a Papal 
Nuncio was sent to inform him of the decrees passed, he 
declared to the Diet that he meant to live and die a Roman 
Catholic. The movement for a national Church thus lost 
all official support. In the same year, 1563, Jesuits came to 
Poland, and finding the Protestants disunited, some being 
Moravians, others Hussites, Calvinists, etc., they were able 
to triumph over them and to gain the ascendancy. In spite 
of these religious troubles, however, Poland became more 
consolidated politically, and administrative and legal reforms 
were introduced. 

In order to pass a law, the Diet, which consisted of the 
Senate and the Second Chamber of elected members, had 
to be unanimous, this desire for unanimity in voting being 
an ancient Slav tradition. Voting took place according to 
a system known as the " liberum veto," which, although 
intended to safeguard the interests of the minority, became 
by its very nature a hindrance to legislation, leading to 
stagnation and disorder. How was it possible to pass any 



hiw when the " not allowed " of one voter was sufficient to 
prevent its passage ? 

In order to assure his son's succession to the crown, 
the king had him elected and crowned King of Poland and 
Grand Duke of Lithuania, and married him to the daughter 
of King Ferdinand. On her death he married the beautiful 
Barbara Radziwill, \\^liose relations were raised to princely 
rank by the Emperor Charles, and from that time the family 
played an influential part in the history of Poland. 

When his turn came, Sigismund Augustus ascended his 
father's throne without opposition. His reign was pro- 
lific in attempts at reform, which culminated in the " Union 
of Lublin," whereby Lithuania was incorporated into Poland 
in spite of the opposition of the Lithuanian delegates ; the 
Little Russians, on the other hand, were strongly in favour 
of it. 

By the union it was decided that Poland-Lithuania 
should form one commonwealth or republic, under an elected 
king and with Warsaw as capital. This " Rietch-Pospolitie " 
(Res-publica), as it was called,was to consist of the " kingdom," 
i.e. the original Poland, with part of the Old Russian lands, 
and of the " principality," Lithuania ; each of the two 
divisions to be represented at the same Diet. By this 
arrangement, however, certain parts of Lithuanian territory 
came under the direct rule of the crown of Poland — namely, 
Volhynia, Podolia, and the Ukraina, which latter again con- 
sisted of the former principalities of Kiev, Poltava, and part 
of Tchernigov. These lands were allowed to retain their 
autonomy and the Ruthenian language ; they were also 
accorded equality with the Poles — " the free with the free ; 
the equal with the equal." All the former restrictions 
imposed upon the adherents of the Russian Church were 
removed, and goodwill was restored once again. 

Thus all that remained of Lithuania's former glory was 
local autonomy, separate finances, and a separate army ; 
but as a separate Power she had ceased to exist. 

The commonwealth was at last united and the admini- 
stration reorganised ; but one point remained which was sure 
to lead to trouble in the future — the power of the crown 


was still too weak. In spite of all the attempts made by 
various kings to control them, the magnates still retained 
their supremacy in the Diet as well as in the country. Some 
of these nobles lived like princes, supporting armies of their 
own, and even waging war on neighbouring Powers on their 
own account. In the hands of such men the kings became 
helpless tools. 

During the sixteenth century all Polish noblemen were 
regarded as equal, and the owner of a single acre of land 
ranked as high as the king's son. But the right to nobility 
might be lost in any of the following ways : it was forfeited 
by any nobleman who committed a heinous offence, or who 
entered into trade, or who permitted a man who was not a 
noble to use his coat-of-arms. 

The difficulty of the succession became more acute than 
ever when Sigismund Augustus, the last Yagiellon, died 
without leaving an heir. Too proud to live under an heredi- 
tary ruler with the risk of probable depotism, the Poles 
determined to see whether an elected king would not be more 
amenable to control. To quote a contemporary : " This 
was done to the end that all princes of Christendom who 
had due merits and qualifications might have the right to 
aspire to the crown of Poland." 

This new departure of opinion started Poland on her 
downward course, each succeeding century witnessing several 
elections, with all the strife and partisanship they were certain 
to entail. Practically every European Court put up its 
candidate, and this naturally led to endless intrigues. The 
kings themselves became mere puppets in the hands of an 
unscrupulous aristocracy. One party now looked to Austria, 
the other to Muscovy, for a candidate. If the latter had been 
chosen, the perpetual feuds with Muscovy over Lithuania 
would naturally have been settled. 

It is not surprising that candidates for the crown of 
Poland were not wanting. As, however, there was no pre- 
cedent for electing a king, some system had first to be organ- 
ised, and it was arranged, after much discussion, that all 
nobles, as such, should be the electors, choosing the king 
directly through the Diet. Forty thousand of the nobility 


consequently met for this purpose under the auspices of the 
Papal Nuncio, and Henry of Valois was elected as the most 
profitable and innocuous candidate. 

The stipulations made with the French prince were as 
follows : — He was to build a fleet, and in case of war to 
equip an army, at his own expense ; he was to spend forty 
thousand florins on his new kingdom, besides having to pay 
all the debts contracted by the last king ; he had to confirm 
all the privileges and rights enjoyed by the nobility at the 
time of his election — this last condition being carefully drawn 
up in detail. 

Henry of Valois, the younger brother of Charles IX., King 
of France, accepted these conditions, as well as the principle 
of elective monarchy — the " pacta conventa " which had made 
him a shadow-king. He guaranteed religious toleration, 
and promised not to make war or conclude peace without 
the consent of the senators, some of whom were always to 
be at his side as advisers. Above all, he had to promise nob 
to make independent use of the ancient right of the king to 
mobilise the whole nation {i.e. the " pospolite rusziene "). 
The Diet was not to be summoned oftener than every two 
years, and then for a term of six weeks only. Should the king 
infringe any one of these conditions, his subjects were ab- 
solved from their allegiance to him. 

Henry was crowned in Cracow ; but he soon began to 
sigh for the pleasures of Paris. Five months later news 
reached him of the death of his brother the king, and that 
he was now King of France, whereupon he quickly forsook 
his Polish kingdom, which he considered rather barbaric. 

The king's flight left the nation in a state of mingled 
anger and perplexity. After some difficulty and many 
differences between the Senate and the nobihty, Stefan 
Bathory, Voyevod of Transylvania, a vassal-state of the 
Sultans, was elected king on condition that he married the 
sister of the ex-king. 

The new king (1576-1586) had no easy task before him, 
but he was a born statesman and leader of men. He decided 
to be king in reality, not a mere figurehead. He was 
the last true statesman the undivided kingdom of Poland 



possessed. Just, far-seeing, and wise, he did his best to 
strengthen the royal power and to regain the lost prestige of 
the country by successful wars ; he also 
turned the Cossacks of the Dnieper from 
enemies into friends of the Polish crown 
by taking a certain number of them into 
his service and using them against Turkey. 
He kept that Power quiet, and was able 
to concentrate his arms against Muscovy 
and at the same time prevent the Cossacks 
from making a raid nearer home. Al- 
though a devout Roman Catholic, he was 
not intolerant ; nevertheless, it was during 
his reign that the Jesuits began to take 
full possession of Poland, opening many 
schools and colleges all over the country. 

In spite of his statesmanship, he had 
not succeeded in establishing the principle 
of monarchical government. After his 
death there was an interregnum, for no 
decision could be arrived at as to whom 
to elect. The Hetman of the crown, 
Zamozski, who had a very good claim to 
be elected, nobly withdrew in order to 
prevent war, without, however, achieving 
his object, for sanguinary battles were 
fought between the partisans of the 
Austrian and Swedish candidates. Fin- 
ally, the son of the Swedish king, a 
nephew of the Queen Dowager, was 
elected. He reigned under the name of 
Sigismund (1587-1632), and under this 
pupil of the Jesuits religious difficulties 
once more became extreme. 

Fear of Russian propaganda, and the 
fact that a Patriarchate had been established at Moscow, 
decided the Polish-Lithuanian rulers to suggest once more a 
union of the Greek Orthodox with the Roman Church, and 
the union refused by the'' Roman See in 1418 was agreed 


(17th Century.) 


upon in 150;"). This decision, however, did not provide a 
solution of the difficulty, especially as the bisliops were 
divided amongst themselves, those of Lemberg and Przemysl 
refusing to join the proposed union. From that time the 
Orthodox Church was no longer officially recognised, and 
violent persecution of her members commenced at the insti- 
gation of the Polish Jesuits. All this led, in 1599, to the 
" Confederation of Vilna," which was formed for the protec- 
tion of the rights and privileges of all " Dissidents," whether 
Greek Orthodox or Protestant, of whom there were a great 
number, for the principles of the Reformation had found ready 
acceptance among both nobles and citizens in Lithuania. 

At the end of the sixteenth century these so-called " Con- 
federations " began to play an important role, each being 
under the leadership of a marshal. The objects of these 
unions being to secure certain ends which were not within 
the limits of constitutional law, they were formed by the 
dissatisfied parties, and special diets were held in which the 
majority of votes decided the question. Although occasionally 
they proposed good measures, these unions virtually repre- 
sented a State within a State, and the commonwealth, which 
was renowned abroad for military prowess, suffered at home 
considerably at the hands of unscrupulous leaders armed with 
dictatorial power. 

On the death of the King of Sweden the King of Poland 
became heir to his throne, but Protestant Sweden did not 
wish to have him for a ruler. For half a century Poland 
and Sweden were at war, which ended in loss for both of them 
but in ultimate gain for Russia. 

Polish influence had meanwhile become strong in Muscovy, 
where the Rurik dynasty had died out. Sigismund wished 
to place himself on the throne instead of his son Vladislav, 
whom one party in Muscovy was willing to support on con- 
dition that he became a member of the Russian Church. 
But the Russian people hated the Poles, who had supported 
the pseudo-Dmitri, and whose arrogant behaviour moreover 
had greatly incensed them. All this led to bitter strife and 
profitless wars. 

Madislav, Sigismund's son and heir, aimed still higher 


than his father — his ambition was to unite the crowns of 
Sweden, Poland, and Muscovy, and he managed to ally him- 
self by marriage with both Austria and France. He died at 
the outbreak of the greatest Cossack rising, in 1648, and was 
succeeded by his brother Casimir, a cardinal, but in whom the 
three dynasties, Yagiellon, Vasa, and Hapsburg, were repre- 
sented. As he was cardinal, he had to be released from his 
vows before becoming king, and in order to save the country 
the expense of keeping up establishments for two queens 
he married his brother's widow. 

The primary duty of Casimir (1648-1668) was to quell the 
rising of the Zaporogian Cossacks, who, under their Hetman 
Peter Konaszewicz, were at the zenith of their power. They 
terrorised the shores of the Black Sea, and even burned the 
suburbs of Constantinople. The registered Cossacks also 
fought for Poland against Muscovy, but in spite of this their 
legitimate demands for representation and for better treat- 
ment in the Ukraina were disregarded. Polish nobles, Jesuits, 
and Jews oppressed the population of these provinces to 
such an extent that when they did rise up the desperate 
inhabitants waged a terrible warfare under their Hetman 
Bogdan Hmielnitski ; and finally all the Zaporogian and a 
large number of the Ukraina Cossacks joined Muscovy. 

Civil war, too, was raging in Poland, and the ex-cardinal 
king, who soon grew tired of wielding power under such 
circumstances, abdicated and retired. This abdication only 
created new difficulties, as once again the vexed question of 
the succession was raised. The Emperor, the King of France, 
and the Elector of Brandenburg suggested candidates ; but 
at last a native magnate was elected. Prince Wisniowiecki, 
who, although the son of a famous father, proved himself 
weak and incapable. Both the Turks and the Cossacks 
profited by the consequent disorder, and Poland lost the 
better part of the Ukraina and Podolia. 

At this time confederations were formed which fought 
against each other ; and after the death of Wisniowiecki, 
General Ian Sobieski, renowned for his victories, was elected 
king (1674-1679). A gallant warrior, Sobieski spent most 
of his time fighting the Turks. He was called to assist 


Austria against them when they were threatening Vienna, 
and it was owing to the victories won by him in this campaign 
that Christendom was saved from further Moslem inroads. 

Internal conditions in Poland, however, grew rapidly 
worse : intrigues, strife, and general demoralisation became 
the order of the day. Poles as well as foreign diplomatists 
availed themselves of the distracted condition of the country 
under elected kings to draw Poland into one or other of the 
great political combinations of the European Powers, the 
Kings of Poland taking sides according to family considera- 
tions. In 1696 intrigues culminated in the election to the 
throne of Poland of Friedrich Augustus, the Elector of 
Saxony, who had more money to spend on bribery than 
either of his rivals. The Protestant Elector, who in order 
to ascend the throne of Poland had to become a Roman 
Catholic, taxed his own country heavily to cover the 
expenditure entailed by this undertaking. Nor did Poland 
gain anything by her new ruler, who showed no sympathy for 
his subjects and took no interest in their welfare ; and so, 
after he had waged unsuccessful wars against Turkey, Sweden, 
and Russia, his deposition was demanded by the victorious 
King of Sweden, The Polish king, wishing to secure peace 
at any price, three times suggested a partition of Poland if 
the Powers would help him. At that time, however, neither 
Prussia, Russia, nor Denmark agreed to his proposal. 

Shortly after this the king was deposed by the magnates 
and another king — Stanislav Lesczynski (1704-1709) — elected 
and crowned ; this made the contest more bitter than ever, 
and it only came to an end when at last the Saxon gave up 
his claim. But the doom of Poland was approaching. 

The great Northern War between Charles XII. of Sweden 
and Peter the Great was for the most part fought out on 
Polish soil, with the result that Poland was left ruined and 
devastated. The country was in such a hopeless condition 
that the only question to be decided was whether she should be 
annexed by Russia or shared between Russia and other powers. 
Poland's day seemed over : all hope of reforming her was lost 
— factions within and wars without had irretrievably ruined 
the kingdom. The lack of a strong Government and of a 


regular army had led to her bemg completely disregarded by 
her powerful neighbours, by whom she was looked upon as a 
battle-field upon which they could settle their quarrels, 
although she had no concern in them. 

Equally desperate was the internal condition of the 
country : the peasants were mere chattels, of less value than 
cattle, and cities and towns were impoverished by the con- 
tinual wars. As for the nobility, a large majority of the 
lesser nobles were ruined, and lived in a state of dependence 
on the few great magnates who, as office-bearers, still possessed 
power. The lower clergy were ignorant and drunken, the 
higher preoccupied with gaining money and power and rivalling 
the magnates in immorality. The Jesuits, as trainers of the 
young, were much to blame for the low moral tone that pre- 
vailed. They inculcated false ideals and puerile ambitions, and 
whipped every atom of a true sense of honour out of their pupils. 

At last even the Poles realised that such a state of things 
could not continue, and a serious attempt at reform was 
made. Two influential Polish families, the Potockis ^ (known 
as the " National " or " Patriotic " party) and the Czar- 
toryskis (who received the sobriquet of " The Family "), 
tried to help their country, but, unable to do so unaided, 
they were obliged to call in supporters from outside. The 
Potockis prevailed upon France, Turkey, and Sweden to 
assist them, while the Czartoryskis applied to Russia. Bitter 
feuds raged between these two families — and all in love for 
their Fatherland ! 

With the help of the Empress Catherine II. the Czar- 
toryskis gained the ascendancy, and her favourite, Stanislav 
Poniatovski, a clever and handsome but weak and dissolute 
young man, was elected king. It was expected that he would 
bring in reforms, but, unfortunately, Catherine refused to 
sanction the abolition of the " liberum veto," and once more 
troubles arose. New Confederations were formed, risings 
and insurrections broke out, only to be put down with appal- 
ling cruelty. The means used to obtain liberty and inde- 
pendence merely led to hopeless anarchy and greater 
subservience to a foreign Power. 

1 Pototski. 


This was the moment for the European Powers to interfere. 
In 1772 the first partition of Pohind between Austria, Prussia, 
and Russia ^ took place. Tlie Polish Diet had to confirm the 
Act whereby their kingdom was dismembered. In vain the 
king pleaded for help from other Powers, and Poland, un- 
able to tight for her existence unaided, lost one-third of her 

Ten comparatively uneventful years followed. The same 
Diet which had sanctioned the partition passed some useful 
laws : a Commission of Education was elected, the Order 
of the Jesuits abrogated, and the revenue of their confis- 
cated lands used for educational purposes ; the universities of 
Cracow and Vilna were reorganised and seminaries for teachers 
and schools for girls and for Jewish children instituted. A 
" Society for Elementary School Books " was founded in 
1776 by Ignaz Potocki. King Stanislav did his utmost to 
break down the political isolation of Poland : he proposed 
an alliance against the Turks to Catherine of Russia, who, 
however, not only refused this offer, but in her reply demanded 
a decrease of his army. She forbade all further reforms, 
which were also being hindered by intrigues within the 
country. To add to these obstacles, Poland was made use 
of by the great Powers whenever their perpetually shifting 
alliances made such a course desirable. 

In 1792 a second partition was made between Prussia and 
Russia, the Diet being forced to agree to this without dis- 
cussion. A great national rising under the patriot Kosciusko 
was the result of this action. However, the Polish soldiers 
were unable to resist Russian and Prussian troops ; Cracow 
was occupied and Warsaw besieged, and the heroic Polish 
leader was wounded and taken prisoner by the Russians. 
Tradition credits him with the famous exclamation, " Finis 
Poloniae ! " Even the National Council, which had organised 
and led this rising, at last realised the hopelessness of further 
resistance, and Warsaw capitulated. This treaty for the 
third partition of Poland was ratified in St Petersburg in 
1795. The king abdicated, and Poland ceased to exist as an 
independent nation. 

^ See chapter on " Catherine the Great." 


Among the many causes, both internal and external, 
avoidable and unavoidable, that worked together to bring 
about the downfall of Poland, the following may be enumer- 
ated : — the perpetual feuds and intrigues among the aristo- 
cracy ; the self-seeking policy of the magnates, both lay and 
clerical ; the persecution of the Greek Orthodox subjects by 
the Jesuits ; the lack of an indigenous middle class (which 
was only represented by Germans and Jews) ; and, finally, 
the character of the elected kings. A really strong man 
would never have agreed to the conditions of the proffered 
kingship, which entailed dependence upon the wishes of the 
powerful nobles ; and the fact that every European Power 
was able to put up a candidate for the throne of Poland drew 
that unhappy land into the quarrels of the royal families of 
Western Europe. To this long list of drawbacks must be 
added Poland's unavoidable but fatal lack of natural frontiers, 
which predestined her to absorption into a greater State. 
But this fact does not lessen the guilt of these Powers who 
divided her. 

Although Poland had ceased to exist as an independent 
Power, her patriots did not meekly acquiesce in her fate. 
Unable to help themselves, they looked to the enemies of 
their enemies for aid, and Napoleon showed willingness to 
assist them ; but this was merely a pretext for adding men 
to his own army, and thousands of Poles actually served under 
his banner in the " Polish Legion." With regard to this an 
English military attache remarked to Prince Czartoryski : 
" One would think the Poles themselves must be sensible of 
the fact that Napoleon takes no real interest in their welfare 
— that he simply looks upon Poland as the stepping-stone 
to his ambitions. His is the protection that the vulture gives 
to the lamb." In fact, the only result of his protection was 
that, after the Peace of Tilsit, Napoleon made the Polish 
lands he had conquered into the Grand Duchy of Warsaw, 
with a Saxon king as Grand Duke. 

At this time the gloom which had enveloped Poland was 
penetrated by a ray of hope in the person of the Russian Tsar. 
Prince Adam Czartoryski, taken to St Petersburg as a 
hostage by Catherine II., had been brought into close contact 


with her grandson, and it was this bond of friendship between 
a Polisli nobleman and the ruler of Russia which led the 
Poles to hope for relief from tlie Tsar, Czartoryski was a 
man whose patriotism was beyond suspicion ; incapable of 
self-seeking, a true knight " sans peur et sans reproche," 
loyally serving his friend Alexander I., he was nevertheless 
mindful of the needs of his own country. The Tsar appointed 
him Minister of Foreign Affairs, and also placed all the schools 
of his newly acquired Polish lands under his supervision. ^ 

Alexander, during the early years of his reign, was quite 
sincere in raising Prince Czartoryski's hopes for the restitution 
of the kingdom of Poland ; but unfortunately the Tsar's 
mental and political attitude changed in accordance with his 
political alliances, and the realisation of his friend's hopes 
fell to the ground. 

Meanwhile Napoleon again needed soldiers, and held out 
renewed promises of support to the Poles. His offer was 
accepted with enthusiasm, and seventy-five thousand men 
were mobilised, sixty thousand of whom joined the " Grande 
Armee." Terrible was the disillusionment of the Poles 
when the unhappy remnant of their defeated army was 
pursued by Cossacks into their own country. 

At the Congress of Vienna, 1815, the Grand Duchy of 
Warsaw was wiped off the map of Europe and the final par- 
tition of Poland ensued. 

Alexander I., however, was genuine in his desire to restore 
to the Poles their fatherland and to grant Poland a constitu- 
tion. Lord Castlereagh warned him against this course of 
action, and wrote to the Emperor : " One single slip from 
unlimited power to constitutional liberty can alter the march 
of a whole century. Your proposal can easily produce 
political disturbances in your own country." But Alexander 
only replied that he felt it imperative to satisfy the legitimate 
demands of the Poles. In the year 1818 he granted Poland 
a constitution. 

For a few years all went well and a period of progress 
and prosperity set in. The Grand Duke Constantine, the 
Tsar's brother, whose morganatic wife was a Polish lady, was 
^ See chapter on " Alexander I." 


appointed commander-in-chief in Poland. But, although 
genuinely interested in the Poles, he was unfortunately very 
unpopular. The aristocracy, in their manner to the Grand 
Duke, expressed the feeling of the people in general. Their 
uncompromising attitude strengthened the hand of the Old 
Russian party, which was gaining influence over the Tsar ; 
and the more the Polish nobility increased their demands, 
the less was the Emperor inclined to give in to them. Con- 
sequently various political organisations developed which 
vented the grievances of the Poles in the Diet and the press. 
Matters grew rapidly worse ; reaction and repression added 
fuel to the fire, and a multitude of political unions and 
societies sprang up. A conspiracy was organised by the 
students of the Military Academy, who were joined by other 
young people, and, in 1830, an insurrection broke out.^ 

The conspiracy was supported by some of the troops, and 
the Grand Duke was obliged to withdraw from Warsaw with 
his Guards, and a fortnight later there was not a single Russian 
soldier in the kingdom. But as the young conspirators had 
no matured plan for the future. Prince Czartoryski and the 
Minister of Finance took matters in hand and proclaimed a 
provisional Government. The Diet, which met on 26th 
January 1831, declared the house of Romanoff deposed, and 
under the leadership of the popular prince a national Govern- 
ment was established. 

Russia meanwhile had brought her army to cope with 
the insurrection, which was crushed after severe fighting. 
Insufficient military preparations and internal dissensions 
doomed the Polish army to defeat. 

This unexpected rising was punished by the Emperor with 
great severity. The constitution granted by Alexander I. 
was withdrawn and replaced by an " Organic Statute " 
which abolished the autonomy of Poland, and incorporated 
her army with that of Russia. Life became unbearable ; 
the University of Vilna was closed, and the " Society of 
Friends of Science " suspended ; the Russian language was 
made compulsory in the schools and for all who were employed 
in Government service ; religious persecution also broke out. 
^ See chapter on " Nicholas I." 


When pleaded with by a Frenchman to let mercy and not 
severity dictate his actions, the Emperor Nicholas I. said in 
reply, among other things : " I know that Europe judges me 
unjustly. Both my brother and I are held responsible for 
what we have not done — tlie idea of the division of Poland 
was not ours. TJiis act has been the cause of much trouble 
to Europe, has cost much blood and may cost still more ; 
but we must not be held responsible for this. We had to take 
conditions as we found them : I have certain responsibilities 
as Tsar of Russia. It is my bounden duty to prevent a 
repetition of those mistakes which have given birth to the 
present sanguinary war. Between the Poles and myself 
there can only be ' une mefiance absolue.' " He then pro- 
ceeded to enumerate the many benefits his brother, the 
Emperor Alexander I., had " showered " on that nation which 
he had never attempted to take away. He spoke of the 
economic and financial improvements and of the reorganisa- 
tion of the army, which, he complained, had been turned by 
the Poles against their benefactors. 

Although conquered by the superior forces of Russia, 
many Poles refused to submit to the new regime. A stream 
of emigrants flowed into France, where Polish princes and 
commoners awaited impatiently an opportunity of fighting 
once more for national freedom. There, in Paris, suffering, 
home-sickness, and disappointed hopes opened the floodgates 
of the nation's intellectual treasures. 

Polish patriots hoped to profit by the issues of the Crimean 
War, and looked to Napoleon III. to assist them — but in vain. 

Although, on his first visit to Warsaw in 1856, Alexander 
II. declared himself in agreement with his father's policy, he 
nevertheless recalled the Poles who had been banished to 
Siberia, and repealed the martial law under which the whole 
country had been placed. The success of the Italian war of 
Liberation served as an incentive to renewed political agitation, 
and, in spite of the conflicts and disorder which broke out in 
1861, the Emperor granted full autonomy to Poland in 1862, 
under the presidency of his liberal-minded brother Constan- 
tine. Attempts made on the life of this Grand Duke, however, 
led to reprisals, which in their turn brought about the Revolu- 


tion of 1863, the success of which was very transient. Poland 
was doomed, and it was Bismarck who contributed largely 
to her downfall. Just when there was a leaning at the Russian 
Court towards compliance with the legitimate demands of the 
Poles, Bismarck stepped in and by his intrigues and the weight 
of his influence as Prussian Ambassador turned the scale in 
favour of oppression. He frankly admitted later on that he 
had opposed those claims of Poland because " a satisfied 
Poland would be bad for Germany." In pursuance of his 
selfish and ruthless policy the future " unifier " of Germany 
thus sacrificed a weaker nation's happiness and welfare. 

General Berg and Count Mouraviev, who was always 
spoken of as the " hangman," stamped out with great ferocity 
the last sparks of this rebellion, in which, it should be noted, 
no peasants took part, having just then been liberated from 
serfdom by the Emperor. 

In every sphere of life reaction and repression were now 
ruthlessly practised. The Russian language was the only 
medium permitted for teaching, Polish becoming merely an 
extra subject. Three hundred out of four hundred and 
eighty towns had their status lowered and were reduced to 
the rank of villages. The Russian judicial system was intro- 
duced, with the exception of trial by jury, etc. All these 
changes, together with the extreme severity of General Gurko, 
the Governor- General, led in 1884 to one conspiracy after 
another, all of which were put down in the usual manner. 

After the catastrophe of 1863, which had so greatly 
disillusioned and sobered the nation, a more constructive 
policy, less romantic and less unpractical than that put 
forward by the former dreamers of independence, was pursued 
by many of the more thoughtful Poles. Much blood had 
been shed and tremendous sacrifices had been made ; wounds 
had now to be healed and all that had been lost in social and 
industrial life had to be made good. This new tendency can 
be traced in the literature of the years following the upheaval 
of 1863. The old narrow traditions of nationality were 
changed for new and broader ones as the Poles came to realise 
that a national life was possible even in the absence of political 


It was the policy of the Russian Government, however, 
to crush these national aspirations. It was thought that this 
could be acliieved by confiscating the property of tlie nobles 
and by wearing out the opposition of the Church through 
bringing pressure from Rome to bear upon her. It was also 
thought that the middle class could be denationalised by 
the Russification of educational and official life. The peasants 
were to be won over by reminding them of what they had 
suffered at the hands of the nobles, and Russia was held up 
to them as their deliverer. The Russian bureaucracy, how- 
ever, made a miscalculation with regard to the depth and 
intensity of the national feeling. When the peasant realised 
what was aimed at by the new system, and when he found 
himself persecuted on account of his nationality and his 
language, then he, being pious and loyal by nature, began 
to see through the machinations of the Government and the 
Church of Rome and to regard both as bitter enemies. All 
this led to an estrangement between the Government and 
people, which has since become a danger to the monarchy, 
has imperilled the loyalty of the peasants, and has even to 
some extent estranged them from their national Church. 

During the last revolutionary movement in Russia, in 
1905, the Social Democratic party found great support m 
Poland. After the Poles had taken an active part in the 
sporadic outbreaks which led to a constitution being granted 
to Russia and a Duma summoned in which Poland was to be 
represented, new repression was meted out to her. The 
bureaucracy has since tried to kill the national spirit by every 
means in its power ; but the Poles realise that, so long as the 
Polish language is spoken by the people, that spirit cannot 
die, and, though risking a heavy punishment, many Poles have 
taught their own and other people's children their language 
in secret ; and in this quiet, unostentatious manner the 
younger generation has been trained in national aspirations. 

Throughout the history of Poland, even when internal 
dissension made her an easy prey to her stronger neighbours, 
and when her unity was merely a diplomatic expression, the 
cry of the nation has always been for a united and autonomous 
Poland. The answer to this cry seemed to have come at last ; 


for on 5th August 1914 the Grand Duke Nicholas addressed 
the following appeal to the Poles of Russia, Germany, and 
Austria : — 

" Poles ! the hour has sounded when the sacred dream of 
your fathers and your forefathers may be realised. A century 
and a half has passed since the living body of Poland was torn 
in pieces ; but the soul of the country is not dead. It con- 
tinues to live, inspired by the hope that there will come for 
the Polish people an hour of resurrection and of fraternal 
reconciliation with Russia. The Russian army brings you 
the solemn news of this reconciliation, which obliterates the 
frontiers dividing the Polish peoples, which it unites con- 
jointly under the sceptre of the Russian Tsar. Under his 
sceptre Poland will be governed again, free in her religion 
and her language. Russian autonomy only expects from you 
the same respect for the rights of the nationalities to which 
history has bound you. With open heart and brotherly hand 
Great Russia advances to meet you. She believes that the 
sword with which Poland struck down her enemies at Griin- 
wald has not yet rusted. From the shores of the Pacific to 
the North Sea the Russian armies are marching. The dawn 
of a new life is beginning for you, and in this glorious dawn 
is seen the sign of the Cross, the symbol of suffering and of 
the resurrection of the peoples." 

This proclamation was hailed with enthusiasm by Western 
Europe, which has always sympathised with the Poles. The 
Tsar's act, prompted though it may be by political wisdom 
and military exigencies, is none the less one of historic justice ; 
we may confidently look forward to the establishment of 
peace and prosperity in an autonomous Poland, and we trust 
that the future will be less troubled than her history shows 
her to have been in the past. 




The history of Finland is very little known, and yet it is 
worth while for all admirers of liberty, courage, and strength 
of character to follow the development of the nation which 
inhabits that charming northern country called by its own 
poets and people " The Last-born Daughter of the Sea," or 
" The Land of a Thousand Lakes." 

Everyone who has visited Finland must have come under 
the spell of its peculiar beauty, chaste and calm, possibly a 
little stern, like her rocks ; quiet as the winter spell which 
keeps all life in abeyance for months, only to break out again 
into the perfect beauty of a northern spring with its long 
days and light nights. Water and rocks, however, offer 
little to the people, and many of the brave inhabitants of 
this " Land of a Thousand Lakes " have a terribly hard 
existence ; yet undaunted they have taken up the fight 
with stern nature and have conquered. But at times their 
enemy gets the upper hand, and then famine with all its 
horrors knocks at the door. 

In the character of the Finns — unyielding and deep, quiet 
and full of poetry — we find the nature of the land reflected. 
Their life on sea and lake, in forest and field, has taught 
them to love and understand nature. Their prototype, 
Wainomoinen, the ancient minstrel, expresses this when 
he says, " Nature was my only teacher, woods and water my 

The beautiful national epic, the Kalevala, gives us glimpses 
of the prehistoric days of Finland, while the oldest traditions 
of Scandinavia tell of a race of giants who, hostile to the gods, 
lived a wild life in dens and caves, clothed in rough skins of 



animals, but also that they were renowned for one good 
quality — absolute adherence to their word. 

In early days Scandinavian vikings made frequent raids 
on the coast of Finland, and in 1156 King Erik of Sweden 
organised a crusade against the heathen Finns, and inci- 
dentally to annex their territory ; — expansion by grace of 
the Church was the normal method in those days. Bishop 
Henry, an Englishman, and the king's right hand, was killed 
by the fanatical heathen Finns ; but later on, in virtue of his 
martyrdom, he became the patron saint of Finland. In 
1220, sixty-four years later, another Englishman, the Domini- 
can monk Thomas, was appointed the first Bishop of Abo, 
the cathedral of which was dedicated to St Henry. 

The conquest of Finland was completed in 1293, and her 
history until the nineteenth century must be included in that 
of Sweden. Fifty years later Sweden extended to Finland 
the same form of government as that already established in 
her own provinces. The personal liberty of the people was 
guaranteed, and slavery, even for prisoners of war, was 
abolished : thus for more than five hundred years every 
Finn has been a freeborn man. 

There can be no doubt that the conquest by Sweden was 
the best thing that could have happened to the Finns, who, 
a mere handful, were living in a country devoid of natural 
frontiers and defences, and remote from the current of 
European civilisation. 

Finland was bound to be absorbed by either Sweden or 
Russia, and if Russian princes had annexed it at that time 
the result would have been very different. The Swedes, 
on the other hand, were at a comparatively advanced stage 
of culture, but neither near enough nor numerous enough to 
swamp the Finns altogether. 

The laws and social order of Sweden were introduced 
into Finland without resistance. The people, in fact, 
willingly accepted them, but adapted and fashioned them 
according to their peculiar needs and character and thus 
made them their own. 

In the sixteenth century a son of the Swedish king, Gustav 
Vasa, was made Duke of Finland, which by that time had 


her oAvn Diet, besides sending representatives to the Swedish 
Parliament. Slic was in manj'' ways an autonomous State, 
altliough linked to Sweden by very strong living bonds which 
were broken only by political exigencies. 

The Finnish and Swedish populations lived together 
without vital fusion, yet in perfect harmony, like two streams 
which flow side by side without intermingling. They never 
quarrelled ; on the contrary, they stood shoulder to shoulder 
whenever the sword had to be drawn, for there had never been 
any oppression on the part of the conqueror. 

Nearly every century witnessed some war between Sweden 
and Russia, and almost all the battles between them were 
fought on Finnish soil. For centuries the ravages and 
miseries of war swept over Finland. The loyal Finnish 
people shared with Sweden defeat and victory. Generation 
after generation patiently and persistently rebuilt burnt- 
down towns and hamlets and managed to survive these 
evil times, although the brunt of the battle was always 
borne by them. In return Sweden gave Finland able ad- 
ministrators, men of intellect, rectitude, and energy, under 
whose generous rule the Finns were able to develop their 
latent powers. 

Equality between man and man has always been one of 
the leading features of Finland's legislation, and thus it was 
social not political inferiority which separated the Finnish- 
speaking majority from the Swedish-speaking minority, and 
this was merely due to the fact that the majority consisted 
of peasants and labourers. In course of time these differences 
were levelled. 

Finland became Protestant at the same time as Sweden 
and accepted the Lutheran doctrine, but retained Episcopacy, 
and the highest ecclesiastical authority remained vested in 
the Archbishop of Abo. Probably the most decisive influence 
which worked for the steady advance in civilisation was this 
fact that Finland had become Protestant. The Bible was 
translated in 1548, the Church fostered education, and as 
confirmation was cumpulsory, and no one unable to read 
could be confirmed, illiteracy soon became the exception. 
Thus in the course of years Finland became one of the most 


advanced countries, rich and poor having equal chances and 
the same educational advantages and thus access to all 
positions. This led to Finland's becoming a truly democratic 

During the Northern War (1700-1721) most of the country 
was devasted, impoverished, depopulated, and in the hands 
of a ruthless enemy. In 1703 Peter the Great had taken 
several fortified places in Ingermanland, Esthland, and 
Livonia. By the Treaty of Nystadt in 1721 all Ingermanland 
and part of the provinces of Kexholm and of Viborg, with the 
town of Viborg, came to Russia. Russia's gain was Sweden's 
loss, and the close proximity of the new Russian capital to 
Finland constituted a danger which threatened to become 
acute, and from 1741-1743 a new war between the two great 
Powers was fought out on Finnish soil. 

The Empress Elizabeth intrigued in Finland. She sug- 
gested that that country should voluntarily join Russia, 
and her manifesto was the first direct intimation of Russia's 
intention to annex Finland. 

Conditions continuing most unsatisfactory in this unfor- 
tunate country, a conspiracy was set on foot by a few 
ambitious men who hoped to secure for Finland independ- 
ence under Russian protection. Several Swedish officers 
entered into correspondence with the Empress Catherine on 
this subject. This of course was treason, but the misery of 
the country under a series of incapable kings, who never 
sent sufficient help to Finland, had made these men 
desperate. Their conspiracy, however, led to nothing. 
Some years later when war had again been declared 
against Sweden, Catherine sent a message to Finland 
advising the people to force the Swedish Army to leave the 
country ; they were to proclaim themselves independent, 
to convoke a Diet, and to frame such laws as they thought 
right, she promising to support the Finns with her army 
and to uphold their resolution. The bulk of the Finns, 
however, showed no desire to take advantage of the offer. 

In the year 1808 war broke out afresh between Russia 
and Sweden. Alexander I. made renewed promises of liberty 
and autonomy under Russia to the Finnish people. They 


were invited to remain quiet and to fear nothing ; they were 
advised not to trust Sweden, and least of all " that enemy of 
tranquillity and peace — England." 

The bad generalship of the Swedish commander in Finland 
proved disastrous ; continually retreating with his troops, 
he left the Finns to battle alone against the superior forces 
of the Russian army. Before long the strong fortress of 
Sveaborg was treacherously surrendered ; of this capitulation 
Professor Danielsen says : " The disgrace which the capitula- 
tion of Sveaborg had attached to the Swedish and Finnish 
armies was washed away in blood, in Revolaks, Lappe, Alvaro, 
and a number of other battles, which the Finns have the more 
cause to think of with pride because their fathers fought 
alone, without assistance from Sweden, and in spite of the 
incapacity of the commander whom the Swedish king had 
given them." Although this heroic resistance was useless 
for shaking off the overwhelming Russian forces, it was 
nevertheless of great political importance. 

At the Russian Court there were two conflicting currents 
of opinion between which the Emperor Alexander I. wavered 
for a time. The one was to annex Finland and to make it a 
Russian province, while the other advised the guaranteeing of 
liberty and autonomy to Finland. The Emperor Alexander I. 
felt inclined to follow the first suggestion, and by the Treaty 
of Tilsit even arranged with Napoleon to compensate himself 
with Finland as he could not get Constantinople. Europe 
was informed of this proposed annexation, but the Emperor 
reckoned without his host — he was like the hunter who 
sold the skin before he shot the bear. His armies were losing, 
and by a regular guerilla warfare the Finnish peasants were 
harassing the Russians ; there was also the very real danger 
of Sweden's being aroused and sending her fleet to St Peters- 
burg. All this influenced Alexander I. to listen to his wiser 
advisers, who moreover touched the sympathetic side of his 
nature. The war with Sweden ended in 1809, and by the 
Treaty of Frederikshamn Sweden ceded Finland to Russia. 

By his orders the Russian general Buxhovden made 
arrangements for the attendance of a body of representatives 
at St Petersburg to consult as to the future form of govern- 


merit. The Finns were on the alert, however, and pointed 
out that an irregularly chosen deputation, without defined 
powers, meeting in the Russian capital, while Russian troops 
were still engaged in war against the Swedes in Finland, 
was far from corresponding with the Diet at Abo to which they 
had formerly been invited. Ultimately a deputation was 
sent to the Emperor to explain to him what could best be 
done for the benefit of the country. 

The members of this deputation met on 12th November 
1808 under the presidency of Baron Mannerheim. He 
reminded them that they were not properly constituted as a 
Diet, and therefore without power to pass laws or vote 
taxes. As spokesman the Baron pointed out to Alexander I. 
that the people of Finland were a free nation, subject to 
their own laws ; he thanked him for his gracious promise 
to respect these laws, liberties, and rights. At the same time 
a memorial was presented asking that a legally constituted 
Diet, " a general meeting of the Estates of the land," should 
be summoned in Finland. The Emperor signed a decree 
calling a Diet at Borgo, recognising it as the proper con- 
stitutional organ for deciding all matters concerning Finland. 
Baron Mannerheim, in writing about this critical moment, 
says : " The magnanimous philanthropist subsequently men- 
tioned that he considered it an honour to rule over a free 
people with laws of its own." 

The Finnish governor Sprengporten, and Alexander's 
trusted friend Count Speranski, who was appointed Secretary 
of State for Finland, arranged matters so that at last the Diet 
at Borgo was ready to start work. Anxious to do full justice 
to the people of Finland, Alexander had studied carefully 
the old Swedish laws which formed the basis of the Finnish 
constitution, thus showing that he fully realised the distinction 
between his position as autocrat of Russia and constitutional 
ruler of Finland. 

Everything was settled ; the representatives of the four 
Estates were elected, and in 1809 the Emperor came in person 
to open this momentous Diet at Borgo. 

It was a fortunate coincidence that a fortnight before the 
Diet met, even the Swedish subjects of King Gustavus IV. 


had lost all patience with his incapacity and misgovernment 
and had shipped him off to Germany. Thus many loyal 
Finns, who had been reluctant to forswear their hereditary 
allegiance, now felt themselves free to cast in their lot with 
those who had made the arrangement with Russia. 

At this first Diet at Borgo the Tsar was anxious to do all 
that lay in his power to reassure the Finns of his intention 
to do them full justice, and he had the " Act of Assurance," 
Finland's Magna Charta, read to the assembled Estates before 
the oath of allegiance was taken. 

As if foreseeing the possibilities of future attacks on the 
constitution, Alexander I. made it a point to state again and 
again that he had promised to maintain the constitution and 
the fundamental laws of the Grand Duchy. 

The official Swedish text of the Act of Assurance runs as 
follows : — 

" We, Alexander I. by the Grace of God Emperor 

and Autocrat of All the Russias, Grand Duke of Finland, 

etc., etc., do make known that Providence having placed 

us in possession of the Grand Duchy of Finland, we have 

desired hereby to confirm and ratify the religion and the 

fundamental laws of the land as well as the privileges 

and rights which each Estate in the said Grand Duchy 

in particular and all the inhabitants in general, be their 

position high or low, have enjoyed hitherto according 

to the constitution. We promise to maintain all these 

benefits and laws firm and inviolable and in their full 

force. In confirmation whereof we have signed this 

Act of Assurance with our own hand. Given in Borgo, 

March 15th, 1809." 

The opening of the Diet was a very brilliant function. 

By the kindly and straightforward manner with which 

Alexander accepted his position, he won all hearts, so that his 

journey through Finland was a veritable triumphal procession. 

When the Emperor had left Borgo the Diet set to work. 

Its task was to bring the country into conformity with the 

new order of things. The Diet had no power to propose new 

laws, but, in accordance Avith Swedish constitutional law, it 

was the ruler who had to lay certain propositions before the 


Estates, which they had then to discuss and adapt to their 
needs ; only if there were a majority of three-fourths could 
these propositions become law, and in some cases they had 
even to be carried unanimously. 

When the Diet had finished its work, the Emperor returned 
to Borgo to close the sitting, and in a speech which is one of 
the most plain-spoken of all his utterances, he repeatedly 
refers to Finland as " a nation governed by its own laws." 

The Diet was supposed to meet every three years, and, 
although Alexander I. never called another, this neglect 
was no violation of the constitution, but was due to political 
difficulties in Russia. 

Another important act on the part of the Tsar was the 
reuniting with Finland of the province of Viborg, which had 
many years previously under Peter I. come under Russian rule. 

Before leaving the country the Tsar issued a manifesto 
in confirmation of all his promises and good wishes for his 
people of Finland. The Act of Assurance and this manifesto 
have, since 1809, kept their places side by side on the walls 
of every church in that land. When, after Sprengporten's 
death, Count Steinheil, a stranger to the country, was made 
the Governor, the Emperor had private instructions drawn 
up for his guidance in which he explained his own intentions 
with regard to Finland. " My object," he wrote, " in organis- 
ing the situation in Finland has been to give the people a 
distinct or separate political existence, so that they shall not 
regard themselves as subject to Russia, but as attached to 
her by their own interests ; and for this reason not only their 
civil but also their political laws have been retained." 

By the Treaty of Frederikshamn in 1809, Sweden definitely 
resigned all claims to Finland, and on her attempting to insert 
into the Act conditions for the future of that land the Russian 
Ambassador pointed out that the Tsar had of his own free 
will guaranteed to the Finns the exercise of their religion, 
rights, property, and privileges. 

In 1816 the Senate, an institution peculiar to Finland, 
was created. It was to be both advisory and executive, its 
members to be chosen by the Emperor and to be responsible 
to him alone and not to the Diet. 


Tho fundamental laws also extended to the military 
organisation of tlie Grand Duchy ; and althougli the Russian 
Minister of War several times wished to control Finnish army 
organisations, the Emperor, true to his oath, prevented it. 
Finnish soldiers could be placed under the command of 
Finnish officers only, and could serve only in their own 
country, and " nothing contrary to this law is to be done in 
this matter either now or in the future " (Alexander's own 
words at the Diet of Borgo). 

A time of rest followed in which Finland was able to 
recuperate. During the ninety years which led to the fatal 
manifesto of 1898, Finland developed her material and intel- 
lectual resources, and raised herself to so high a standard of 
civilisation that she came to be on a par with the most pro- 
gressive Western nations. 

The death of Alexander I. created a difficult situation 
in Finland. Serious complications might have arisen had 
not the Finnish Secretary of State, Count Rehbinder, with 
rare prudence, tact, and firmness, succeeded in making the 
new Emperor, Nicholas I., sign the Act of Assurance on the 
very day of his accession to the throne. Only one sentence 
had to be changed : instead of " Providence having placed 
us in possession," it ran : " Having come by the will of 
Providence into hereditary possession, etc." 

The reign of Nicholas I. opened with a military revolution 
in St Petersburg ; although no Finnish officer was implicated, 
the Grand Duchy had to suffer. Embittered at the very 
outset of his reign, the new Emperor determined to rule his 
Empire with a rod of iron ; yet so far as Finland was con- 
cerned, although he never called the Diet, he recognised and 
respected the constitutional rights of the country. 

The Finns, always orderly and law-abiding, grasped the 
situation and, well accustomed to a long winter, patiently 
awaited the spring. Nor did they wait in vain. The reign 
of Alexander II. inaugurated an era of prosperity. This 
Emperor signed the Act of Assurance ungrudgingly. Indeed, 
he had already displayed considerable interest and sympathy 
for Finland in his capacity of Chancellor of the University of 
Helsingfors. In 1856 he visited Finland, where he took part 


in the sitting of the Senate. He thanked the people for 
their assistance in the Crimean War, and expressed sympathy 
for the losses sustained by them during the bombardment of 
their coast by British ships. 

Hitherto excellent Secretaries of State had ably repre- 
sented their country in St Petersburg, but no Diet had as yet 
been summoned. The Finns anxiously awaited this moment. 
Might it possibly be his intention to rule without it ? His 
attempt to conciliate the Poles had failed and others had to 
suffer for it ; but at last, in 1863, a legally elected Diet was 
called which met for the first time since 1839. Alexander 
II., having spent part of the summer in Finland, accompanied 
by his sons and several ministers, opened the Diet in person. 

A happy time followed, and from that period dates the 
extraordinary economic development of Finland. Internal 
difficulties were settled, railways and canals made ; large 
estates near Viborg, which had been owned by Russian 
magnates (given to them as rewards by former Tsars) were 
now bought up and sold to the peasants. The Diet was 
summoned every few years, and Finland lived in sympathy 
and harmony with her powerful neighbour Russia. 

On the accession of Alexander III., in 1882, fears were 
aroused lest a reaction should set in, for the Slavophile press 
of Russia was urging a return to the blind absolutism of 
past generations ; but although this influenced the Emperor 
so far as Russia was concerned, he remained true to the 
principles of his fathers with regard to Finland. He not only 
signed the Act of Assurance, but sent a special order confirm- 
ing all the new laws passed by the Diet. 

Dark clouds were, however, gathering over the horizon. 
The reactionary party in Russia had ultimately succeeded 
in influencing the Emperor, who became a prey to the fears 
of terrorism. He surrendered himself more and more, as 
to his political views, into the hands of those officials who saw 
in repressive measures and absolutism the only cure for all 
ills. His advisers aimed at something more than merely 
obstructing the working of the Finnish Diet ; their object 
was to destroy it completely and to bring about a unification 
with Russia. The Grand Duchy of Finland was to be brought 


down to the same level as the Russian provinces of the empire, 
to be administered from headquarters instead of by local 
autonomy as hitherto. 

In 1890 a commission was appointed in St Petersburg to 
prepare plans for bringing the postage, coinage, and customs 
of Finland into line with those of the Empire : this was a 
direct violation of the constitution, as such matters were for 
the Finnish Senate and not for a Russian Committee to 
decide. A deputation from the four Estates went to St 
Petersburg to remonstrate, but it was not received. Later 
on the words " Province of Finland " were ofificially used 
instead of " Grand Duchy " — another breach of the Emperor's 

About this time some of the Senators began to realise 
that their position was a farce, and two of the most eminent 
men resigned. At the opening of the Diet in 1 891 the Speakers 
of each Estate made a vigorous protest, and, although the 
Tsar's reply was conciliatory, these " unification tendencies " 
were not checked, and the great tragedy of the loss of 
Finland's liberty began. 

In 1894, on his accession to the throne, the present Tsar, 
Nicholas II., like his predecessors, pledged himself to uphold 
the fundamental laws of Finland and steadfastly to maintain 
them in full force. These promises seemed a mockery, 
for they had already been deeply encroached upon b}^ the 
former regime. 

With the issue of a new manifesto to Finland m February 
1898 the Emperor altered the military laws, and the clouds 
which had been gathering on the horizon broke at last. To 
the uninitiated it may seem as if Finland's attitude was 
wrong, and as if she objected to an army reform as such ; but 
this was not the case. The Diet itself had proposed a change, 
and the protest was only raised against the unconstitutional 
proposals contained in the Bill. This military Bill, w^hich 
was to be considered by an extraordinary Diet, was intro- 
duced in a threatening manner to the Estates by the Governor- 
General, a Russian soldier of the reactionary type. In former 
days, as far back as the reign of Alexander II., General 
Milj'utin had formulated similar proposals, viz. : " That the 


Finns must perform military service under the same conditions 
as did the men of all other parts of the Empire, and thus be 
merged in the Russian army." The Tsar, however, remem- 
bered the fundamental laws of Finland, and this proposal, 
as well as a later one made by the War Minister under Alex- 
ander III., came to naught, because, as he rightly remarked, 
" the Finnish army is a matter for the Finnish Diet." 

The time chosen for crushing Finland's liberty over a 
question of armaments was unfortunate, for just then Nicholas 
II. was calling upon the other Powers to join in a peace con- 
ference at the Hague. 

Apart from its essential defect, there was the unconstitu- 
tional way in which this manifesto was drawn up. There 
were also several illegal points in it, to mention one only — 
the oath. Till then the Finnish soldiers had sworn allegiance, 
like civil servants, to the " Monarch and Fatherland " ; but 
now the Russian form of oath was to be taken, not to the 
Grand Duke of Finland, but to the Autocrat of All the Russias. 
Until then every young man from eighteen to twenty-one 
years of age had had to present himself for military service ; 
but as only a very small number of recruits was required 
the ballot decided who was to serve and who not, and the 
length of time for service varied according to the standard 
of education. Everyone belonged for a certain term of 
years to the reserves, and after that to the " Landwehr." 
Finnish ofificers received their training in Finnish cadet 
corps ; but as only very few could get commissions in their 
own small army, the surplus accepted service in the Russian 
army, where they upheld the honour of the Finnish name, 
although they had then to become subjects to all Russian 
conditions as to language, etc., and from the military point 
of view they were reckoned as Russians. The new decree, 
however, decided that Finnish regiments were to be officered 
by Russians, who would not thereby become subject to Finnish 
conditions, but would bring their own language, customs, 
etc., with them, and would thus soon swamp the Finnish 

The Diet offered to double the army — Russia demanded 
it to be quadrupled. 


By til is manifesto Nicholas II. undid the good work of 
his grandfather, Alexander II., under whom Finland had 
prospered. Just as strict adherence to solemn pledges had 
worked well, so did the reverse prove disastrous. This one 
ill-advised act has caused the decline of prosperity, and has 
given the signal for a steady, ever-increasing stream of 

The Senate sent a memorial to the Emperor politely 
pointing out to him that his act was at variance with the 
fundamental statutes, but also that the loyal Finns were 
quite willing to make such concessions and sacrifices as were 
needed for the general welfare of the Empire, if only the 
matter were handed over to the Diet to be treated in the 
constitutional way. This deputation, however, was not 
received by the Tsar. 

A formal deputation of the four Speakers went to St 
Petersburg, but neither were they admitted to the Tsar, 
who sent them a message that surely they ought to be content, 
as he had undertaken personally to decide every Finnish 
question. This rebuff was disheartening ; the Finnish people 
saw their self-government menaced and autocracy inaugurated, 
and once more Senate and Diet protested — but all in vain. 
Deep emotion and anxiety prevailed in the nation, and 
suddenly, quite independently of all political parties or leaders, 
the idea sprang up of a personal appeal direct from the heart 
of the nation to their Grand Duke, the Tsar. 

There was no organisation in existence through which to 
coUect signatures. It was the depth of winter, and the people 
lived scattered over miles of country. Although towns 
could be got at by rail, hundreds of remote villages and 
islands out in frozen sea could only be reached by sledges or 
on snow-shoes. The Russian secret police had already begun 
its work, so that the Post Office could not be trusted, but 
volunteers came forward, one hundred of whom were chosen. 
Five hundred copies of that appeal written by hand, one for 
each parish in Finland, were entrusted to these volunteers, 
the idea being that they should be read and signed in every 
church on Sunday, March 5th. There were wonderful in- 
stances of devotion ; as much as a hundred miles were 


run by one man on snow-shoes in a day and a half ; and in 
ten days five hundred thousand signatures had been affixed 
and delegates appointed from each parish to proceed to St 

This latter had not been part of the original scheme, and 
might have proved a risk, as the police of St Petersburg do 
not encourage demonstrations. A special train was chartered, 
and before General Bobrikov and the police had any idea of 
what had been done the five hundred men were on their way 
to the Russian capital. They were not received by the Tsar, 
while a small counter-petition, quickly produced by Bobrikov 
and signed by his creatures, was graciously accepted. The 
monster petition to the Tsar had no other effect than to 
draw down a threat of further drastic measures, and finally 
Bobrikov got the longed-for power to exUe and deport to 
remote regions inconvenient individuals. And so it came 
about that Finland's best sons received orders of expulsion, 
which meant that within a certain number of days they had 
to leave their home and country. 

The petition of a whole nation was merely a humble and 
heartfelt plea for the maintenance of the justice of past years, 
yet the reply was crushing in its unsympathetic severity. 
It was then that the member for Viborg, who was also 
British consul, made an epoch-making speech in which he 
said amongst other things : " We Finns are accustomed to 
the ravages of frost, and have patiently borne that visitation, 
trusting in the future ; but such a night of frost as the mani- 
festo of February 15th has never been known before by the 
Finnish nation. With one stroke of the pen our most 
cherished possessions have been taken from us, none are 
untouched by it — rich and poor alike have been stricken. 
Ask his Majesty whether he can afford to throw away the 
devotion and love of the whole nation ? " 

It was hoped that this speech might reach the ear of the 
Tsar, and it may have done so eventually, as it was printed 
and widely distributed, but the brave consul had to suffer 
for it. The British Government was informed that he had 
taken part in political propaganda, with the result that he 
was deprived of his office. 


The careful and deliberate mode of action adopted by the 
Diet "was a little embarrassing to the Russian officials, who 
had looked upon the abolition of the constitution as an easy 
matter. They had anticipated an outbreak of violence, and 
were prepared to take repressive measures, and the firm 
determination of the whole Finnish people to maintain their 
rights while at the same time abiding within the bounds of 
strict order and legality was a puzzle to them. Though a 
few Russian agents provocateui's were introduced to create 
disturbances, they did not succeed ; and when the Governor- 
General questioned the chief of the police of Helsingfors as 
to how many men he could rely upon to maintain order, the 
answer was, " Seventy thousand." 

At that period the Russian papers were full of denuncia- 
tion of the English, of Jewish bankers, and of Freemasons — 
three Russian bugbears, who were supposed to have stirred 
up this conspiracy in " the Russian provinces of Finland." 

Threats were made to Finland, and also fully carried out. 
The Diet was closed with a curt message from the Tsar, and 
in spite of the rejection of the Bill the military reorganisation 
was enforced. Finnish youths were drafted into Russian 
regiments all over the vast Empire, instead of, as hitherto, 
only in their own country. 

The introduction of the new military law met with per- 
sistent opposition : in the majority of cases the clergy 
who were to read the edict in the churches refused to do 
so ; recruits failed to present themselves, and even those men 
who had to see to the enforcement of the order refused 
to elect members for such work. All this led to a deadlock, 
and then General Bobrikov tried by means of bribes and 
promises to coax the young men to come forward, but 
without avail ; until at last he threatened to have the 
Diet postponed if the right number of recruits did not 
turn up, whereupon they presented themselves in order to 
save the Diet. The Governor, however, did not keep his 
side of the bargain. 

The result was emigration by the thousand. America 
gained what Finland lost — splendid sailors and good workers. 
The counsellors of the Tsar told him that a bad harvest had 


caused this exodus, but they were mistaken. Official state- 
ments mention 12,103 emigrants in 1899 ; in 1901 the number 
rose to 22,263. 

The Governor-General asked for repressive powers, and 
poor Finland soon found herself in the throes of a tragedy ; 
the first men to suffer were the best, the most eminent, and 
the most patriotic. New irregularities were constantly 
perpetrated : the Finnish postage stamp was abolished, and 
espionage, agents provocateurs, and Russian gendarmes were 
introduced ; the ancient right to form associations and to 
hold meetings was restricted, and a number of petty measures 
were introduced showing ignorance and contempt for Finnish 
customs. Though complaints about these were sent up to 
the Tsar, his only reply was to increase the arbitrary power of 
the Governor-General. 

A new manifesto was issued which made Russian the 
official language, but, before its promulgation, fourteen out 
of a total of twenty Senators sent in their resignation. The 
Secretary of State for Finland at that time was von Plehve, 
and to him the Diet sent a letter pointing out that Swedish and 
Finnish were not merely local languages subordinate to an 
Imperial one, but the national languages of Finland, and 
therefore they alone could, in the fullest sense of the word, 
be the official languages of the Grand Duchy. 

Great practical difficulties arose out of this language 
manifesto. Only a few Finnish officials knew Russian, and 
even they refused to use it for " illegal purposes," so that 
General Bobrikov found himself in a very awkward position. 
More and more the Finns realised how entirely they had been 
handed over to the arbitrary power of this Governor, who, 
on the resignation of the fourteen Senators, tried to fill the 
vacancies with men subservient to his will. Post after post 
became vacant, and, as no loyal Finn wished to accept office, 
Bobrikov gradually filled them with his creatures, some of 
whom were men who, according to Finnish law, had lost 
their civil rights. At last even these men found the situation 
impossible, and a dictatorship was introduced. 

One of the uses which Bobrikov made of his unlimited 
power was to dismiss the judges who refused to comply with 



his illegal demands, and thus an important safeguard of 
Finnish society was removed. 

Ignorant both of Swedish and Finnish, this Governor- 
General was a soldier whose attitude towards the people he 
governed was one of blank amazement ; he could not fathom 
a mentality which dared to question the absolute wisdom 
of the Autocrat of All the Russias. He was forced to admit 
the general discontent ; but he boldly proclaimed that the 
strained situation was due to the machinations of a few 
evil-minded persons — that the whole nation was writhing in 
despair he refused to acknowledge. 

The Russian press put forward his point of view, but those 
who followed events with understanding knew that in reality 
it was merely the result of a deep-rooted conviction and fear 
lest Finland's cherished liberties — even national existence — 
should be lost. 

The course which was so widely adopted in Finland 
during this period of oppression has been described as " passive 
resistance on a basis of strict legality " ; it implies obedience 
to statute laws, but refusal to acknowledge illegal measures. 

Every branch of civic life was tampered with, even the 
Post Office being used as a means of spying. The Postmaster- 
General pointed out to Plehve the grave consequences of these 
acts, and also that they were an infringement of the Universal 
Postal Convention. The Senate raised a protest against the 
Government circular concerning this breach of the law, yet 
without result. The Postmaster-General, an honest man, 
resigned, and for a time nobody was found wUling to take 
his place. 

As the highest officials had been dismissed, and Russians, 
ignorant of language and people, had been appointed in their 
place, everything was bound to go wrong. A characteristic 
example of how things were managed is that, after the dis- 
missal of the Inspector of Fisheries, Bobrikov's young Russian 
adjutant was appointed to the post — as " he was interested 
in fishing " ! 

In November 1903 a deputation of exUes arrived in 
Darmstadt to see the Tsar and to present a petition, but 
did not succeed in doing so. This document was a lucid 


statement of facts. Amongst other things it mentioned the 
apparent increase in crime, although convictions had decreased 
and the police force had been strengthened beyond all reason, 
their chief occupation being to spy on all honest citizens and 
to make raids on their homes. 

The unhappy country was suddenly startled by the news 
that the dictator Bobrikov had been shot. That a clerk of 
the Senate, a man of upright character, the son of a Finnish 
general who had served all his life in Russian regiments, 
should commit such an act proved to what straits Finland 
had been brought. Assassination was a new phenomenon in 
that land ! It was the result of Russian administration. 

Prince Obolenski, the successor of Bobrikov, followed in 
the latter 's footsteps, although with more moderation. In 
August 1904 the Diet was summoned ; but as, by Finnish 
law, every man elected has to present himself, the question 
arose, what should be done in the case of the numerous exiles 
who during three years of repression had been forced to 
leave the country ? Prince Obolenski wisely permitted aU 
exiles who were representative members of the nobility, or 
men elected to represent the other Estates, to return for 
the session. One important result of this Diet was the 
resuscitation of the national spirit from depression ; it led 
to a consolidation of the nation, and all former party strife 
was forgotten in face of the national danger. 

The Diet set to work and sent a " Petition of Rights " to 
the Emperor. It was a unanimous action of the Four Estates, 
pleading for the restoration of legal order ; but once again 
no reply was vouchsafed. Quite unexpectedly Nicholas II. 
closed the Session, although asked to let it be only adjourned, 
and upon his refusal to do so great disappointment prevailed. 

The Diet was to meet again in a year's time in order to 
settle the question of the provisional payment of ten million 
marks a year to the Russian exchequer — this as a compromise 
until such time as the military question could be settled in a 
constitutional manner. 

In 1905 an event of unparalleled importance took place. 
Spontaneously and simultaneously a general strike broke out 
all over the country. Everyone, without distinction of social 


position, age, or sex, stopped work and marched in procession 
iilong the streets. This gigantic crowd of unarmed citizens 
appeared uplifted into a state of almost religious exaltation. 
All former differences and distinctions were put aside, the 
whole nation becoming as one family, and perfect strangers 
spoke to one another as naturally as old friends. This mystic 
feeling of unity spread even to the children. It had been a 
common occurrence for Finnish and Russian boys to fight 
each other, but now the Finnish children, marching in pro- 
cession past the Russian schools, invited their former anta- 
gonists to join them, saying : " Come, we are all brothers." 
Thousands of children thus paraded the streets singing the 
Marseillaise in Finnish, Swedish, and Russian. 

The Governor-General called upon the Russian military 
to disperse the crowds that were gathering on every open 
space, but the soldiers refused to fire on unarmed people ; 
some even, expressing sympathy with the Finns, fraternised 
with them. It was a unique phenomen, this strike on the part 
of a whole nation, combined as it was with a complete "non- 
resistance " to violence, and readiness to die for their cause. 

A significant statement in regard to the attitude of the 
people is contained in paragraph 3 of the proclamation issued 
in Tammerfors, the most important manufacturing city of the 
Grand Duchy : " We honour and love Russia's noble people 
as much as we hate the bureaucracy which during the last 
few years has represented Russia. We have no desire what- 
ever to separate ourselves from the great Russian Empire, 
but we do ask for the assurance that only the best Russian 
element should bear rule over us." 

A mass meeting was held, and a deputation presented 
to the Governor-General the constitutional demands of the 
people. This had the desired effect, for the Governor-General, 
Prince Obolenski, and the members of the Senate resigned 
in a body. When this fact was proclaimed to the people great 
enthusiasm reigned, and thousands of voices were raised in 
the Finnish National Anthem. It was an historic moment. 

Thus, after a duration of only six days, the general strike 
came to an end, the day having been won. The Emperor 
issued a manifesto in which he abrogated all unconstitutional 


measures introduced since 1899, and restored to Finland all 
she had lost. Thus the dark clouds were lifting. 

The Diet had a heavy task before it : numerous urgent 
reforms, left in abeyance during the period in which its very 
existence had been threatened, had now to be carried out. 
Universal suffrage was introduced, and women became eHgible 
for a seat in the Diet, and have since proved themselves useful 
members of the legislative body. 

The bright hopes for the future, however, were not to be 
fulfilled ; gradually all the former illegalities were remtro- 
duced by the Russian authorities, abuses crept in again, and 
many new ones added. 

The history of contemporary Finland is well known in 
England, and the attitude of " non-resistance " to the superior 
powers of the Russian Government — as represented by the 
Governor-General — has the fullest sympathy and admiration 
of all lovers of constitutional government. The Finnish 
magistrates who are to-day serving terms of imprisonment 
in Russian prisons are doing so not for breaking, but for 
refusing to break, the laws of Finland. 

The great grievance of the Finnish people is that, although 
they are perfectly willing to accept measures suggested by 
the Tsar as Grand Duke of Finland, they have no guarantee 
that these measures will be passed in a constitutional manner 
— in simple accordance with the Finnish laws sworn to by the 
ruler on his accession. 

The Finns have been a loyal people, and even to-day it 
would not be too late for the Tsar to regain their trust and 
devotion if only he would return to the wise and generous 
policy of his ancestors. Russia has nothing to fear from a 
contented Finland — the history of the nineteenth century 
has proved this. To-day, when national feeling is awakening 
in every nation however small, it seems hardly the moment 
to deny to so highly civilised and progressive a nation as the 
Finnish (in which there are no illiterates) the right to their 
old well-proved laws and privileges. Surely it would be 
better for Russia to have a contented nation as buffer State 
between herself and Sweden than one smarting silently and 
suUenly under injustice. 


After the war broke out and the German Government 
prevented the Empress-Dowager from returning to Russia 
via Berlin, her Majesty passed through Finland on her way 
to Petrograd. True to her traditional liking for Finland, 
the Empress showed herself to the people as she had done in 
the days gone by, when with her late husband the Emperor 
Alexander III. she had spent many happy days in that 
country. Her gracious manner, her demand to hear the 
National Anthem, which had been forbidden for years, and 
her command to have only Finnish and not Russian police 
to accompany her, aroused popular enthusiasm. 

The latent loyalty of the Finns awoke, and crowds volun- 
teered for service in the Russian army. A gracious telegram 
sent by the Tsar to thank the Finnish people for its mani- 
festation of loyalty raised great hopes that a new era had 
begun ; but up to the present not one of the restrictions and 
illegal measures has been removed — in fact, matters have 
grown worse. The press is muzzled, many of the best 
citizens have been exiled to Siberia by administrative 
order — i.e. without trial. Many others have simply vanished 
— only the Russian police knows their whereabouts. 

When the manifesto promising autonomy to Poland was 
issued, the people of Finland hoped that for them too the 
day of restoration was dawning ; but in this they were 

Those who love Finland and who know how terribly dark 
the hour is through which that land is passing, ask with heavy 
hearts : " Watchman — what of the night ? " 


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Zabelin, The History of the Town of Moscow. 


Abo, 304, 403, 407. 

Treaty of. 133. 
Adashev, 43, 44, 47, 51. 
Adrianople, the Treaty of, 283. 
Aix-la-Chapelle, 218. 
Akkerman, the Treaty of, 280, 282. 
Aksakov, 298. 
Albert, Prince Consort, 290. 
Alexander I., Emperor, 189, 195, 197 f., 

221, 306, 321, 359, 396, 398, 405 f. 
Alexander Yaroslavovitch, 32. 
Alexander II. (Tsar-Liberator), 295 f., 

308, 315 f., 321, 324, 359, 361, 363, 

398, 410 f. 
Alexander III., 321, 324, 363, 411 f., 

Alexander, Prince of Lithuania, 36, 

Alexander Mikhailovitch, 32. 
Alexander Nevski, 24 f., 92. 
Alexandrovo, 48. 
Alexei (son of Peter the Great), 90, 

95 f., 109. 
Alexei Mikhailovitch, 69 f., 83. 
Alma, the battle of, 293. 
Alvaro, battle of, 406. 
Amur, the Cossacks of the, 351. 
Anapa, the fort of, 282. 
Anastasia, 245. 

Andrei II. Alexandrovitch, 32. 
Andrei Yaroslavovitch, 32. 
Andrei Yurievitch (Bogolyubski), 16 f., 

Androussovo, the Treaty of, 81, 345. 
Anglo-Russian Entente, the, 325. 
Anna I. Ivanovna, 127, 128 f., 134, 321. 
Anna Leopoldovna, 321. 
Apraxin, Count, 100, 101, 133. 
Araktcheyev, Count, 193, 194, 195, 

240, 241, 243, 244, 245, 265. 
Archangel, foundation of, 46, 51. 
Armenia, 279, 282, 288. 
Armfeld, Count, 240. 
Askold, 10. 

Astrakhan, conquest of, 44. 
Augsburg, the Diet of, 356. 
August of Saxony, 129. 
Austerlitz, battle of, 201. 
Austria, war with Prussia, 131. 
Azov, 86-87, 91. 

Baer, Carl Ernst von, 361. 

Bagration, General, 208. 

Baku, 95, 313. 

Balaklava, the battle of, 293. 

Baltic provinces of Russia, the, 266, 

354 f. 
Barclay de Tolly, General, 208. 
Bathory, Stefan, 339-340, 358, 388. 
Batu Khan, 23. 

Bavaria, Austrian invasion of, 201. 
Beauplan, the Sieur de, 334. 
Behring Straits, discovery of the, 114. 
Belgrad, the Treaty of, 129. 
Belinski, 276. 
Benkendorf, Count, 273. 
Benningsen, General, 196, 223. 
Beresteczko, the battle of, 343. 
Berezina, the, 211. 
Berg, General, 399. 
Bernadotte, King of Sweden, 212. 
Besborodko, 145, 158, 188, 189. 
Bessarabia, 377. 
Bestoujev - Ryumin, Sub - Lieutenant, 

Bestujev, 133, 137, 138. 
Betzkoi, Colonel, 180, 181, 188. 
Bezerov, 132. 
Biron (lover of Anna the Bloody), 

128-129, 130, 131. 
Bismarck, 399. 
Bliicher, 215. 
Bobrikov, General, 415 f. 
Bobrinski, General, 363. 
Boleslav I., King of Poland, 370. 
Boleslav II., King of Poland, 370. 
Boleslav III., King of Poland, 370. 
Bolteen (Russian historian), 269. 
Borgo, 407. 

Boris Godouuov, 51 f., 64, 349. 
Boristhenes. See Dnieper. 
Borodino, battle of, 209. 
Bothnia, 290. 
Braunschweig - Wolfenbiittel, the 

Duchess of, 130. 
Bremen, the Augustine monastery at, 

Breslau, 212, 372. 
Briansk, 376. 
Bruce, Mr, 99. 
Brunnow, Baron, 296. 




Bucharest, the Peace of, 206, 280. 
Bulgaria, 290. 
Buxhovden, General, 406. 
Bylaev, 302. 

Byzantium, 9, 10, 13 30? See also 

Caesar Augustus, 42. 

Campredon (French Ambassador), 98. 

Cancrin, 297. 

Canning, 281. 

Casimir II., King of Poland, 67, 371. 

Casimir III., King of Poland, 373. 

Casimir IV., King of Poland, 381 f., 391. 

Castlereagh, Lord, 214, 216, 216, 396. 

Catherine I. (wife of Peter the Great), 

95, 97, 103, 108, 124 f., 134, 321. 
Catherine II. (the Great), 135, 142 f., 
145 f., 162, 269, 321, 359, 393, 396, 
Catherine, Duchessof Mecklenburg, 127. 
Chancellor, Richard, ix, 2, 45, 46. 
Charles I., King of England, 71, 72. 
Charles IX., King of France, 388. 
Charles X., King of Sweden, 368. 
Charles XI., King of Sweden, 358. 
Charles XII., King of Sweden, 94, 392. 
Cherson, 155. 
China, 312. 

Chlopicki, General, 286. 
Cholmogori, 132. 
Constantine Vsevolodovitch, 32. 
Constantine, Grand Duke, 251, 257, 
284 f., 287, 303, 311, 396, 397, 398. 
Constantine Monomachus, Emperor, 

Constantinople, vii, 149, 152, 283 f., 
378, 391. See also Byzantium, 
the Treaty of, 129, 324. 
Courland, 355, 357, 359, 360, 368. 
Cracow, 371, 372, 373, 394. 

the University of, 394. 
Crimea, the, annexation of, 153, 175. 
Crimean War, the, 292, 301, 398. 
Cruys, Admiral, 99. 
Custine, the Marquis de, 260. 
Cyril (apostle of the Slavs), 369. 
Czartoryski, Prince, 197 f., 201, 203, 
216, 222, 226, 228, 285, 393, 395 f. 

Daghestan, 95. 

Danielo (son of Roman of Volhynia), 

Danielsen, Professor, 406. 
Dantzig, 129, 382. 
Dardanelles, the Treaty of the, 206. 
Dashkov, Princess, 137, 139, 141, 162, 

169, 183, 188, 190. 

Decembrist conspiracy, the, 261 f. 

De la Chetardie, 131. 

Deptford, 89. 

Derjavin, 186, 188, 225. 

Diderot, 136, 184. 

Diebitch, General, 283, 286, 287. 

Dir, 10. 

Disjnev, Denis, 114. 

Dmitri II. Mikhailovitch, 32. 

Dmitri IV. Ivanovitch (Donskoi), 12, 

29-30, 32. 
Dmitri Alexandrovitch, 32. 
Dmitri, the Pretender, 69 f., 64. 
Dnieper, the, 328 f., 334 f. 

the Cossacks of the, 327 f., 389. 
Dolgorouki, Prince, 100. 
family, the, 126-127. 
Don, the Cossacks of the, 348 f. 
Dorpat, the University of, 226, 243, 

360, 361. 
Dostoyevski, 276. 
Dugdale, Admiral, 176, 187. 

Edward VI., King of England, 45. 

Ekaterina Pavlovna, the Grand Duch- 
ess, 262. 

Ekaterinenstadt, 174. 

Elba, 214, 215. 

Elizabeth, Queen of England, 2, 3, 46. 

Elizabeth Petrovna, 130, 131 f., 134, 
321, 405. 

Elizabeth Voronzov, 137. 

Elphinstone, Rear-Admiral, 147 f., 163, 
176, 187. 

Enghien, the Due d', 199. 

England, a commercial treaty with, 

Erik, King of Sweden, 403. 

Erivan, 279, 280, 288. 

Erzerum, 282. 

Esthland, 406. 

Esthonia, 355, 358, 360. 

Eudoxia (wife of Peter Alexeievitch), 
82, 96. 

Eylau, the battle of, 202. 

Feodor Alexeievitch, 78 f., 83. 
Feodor Borissovitch, 64. 
Feodor Ivanovitch, 61 f., 55. 
Ferdinand I., Emperor, 357. 
Finland, 266, 402 f. 

annexation of, 204, 403 f. 
France, the Revolution in, 145, 284, 

Franco -Russian alliance, 325. 
Frederick the Great, 146, 160, 151, 168. 
Frederikshamn, the Treaty of, 406, 


Friedland. the battle of, 203. 
Friedrich Augustus, Kiiij^of Poland, 392. 
Friedrich Wilhelm III. of Prussia, 198. 

OaKarin, Prince, 118. 

Gaiioia, 373-374. 377. 

Gapon. Father, 325. 

Gatehina, 190, 191. 

Gedeuiin, Prince of Lithuania, 328, 

329, 375, 376. 
George III., King of England, 197. 
Georgia, annexation of, 192, 288. 
Germany, war with, 326. 
Ghenghiz Khan, 21. 
Ghilan, 95. 
Glinka, 276. 

Glinsky, Princess Anna, 43. 
Gnesen, 371, 373. 
Goethe, 360. 
Gogol, 275, 301. 

Golenistchev-Koutou.sov, Prince, 209. 
Golitzin, Boris, 83. 

Prince Alexander, 234, 236, 237, 
242 f., 249, 251, 252. 

Prince Vassili, 81 f., 100. 
Golovin, Count, 100. 
Golovkin, Count, 100. 
Gontcharov, 276, 301. 
Gordon, Patrick, 86, 90, 99. 
Gortchakov, Prince, 291, 299, 300, 302. 
Gossner, Johannes, 235. 
Gothland, the island of, 354. 
Gregory IX., Pope, 24. 
Greigh, Admiral, 154, 157, 163, 176, 187. 
Grenville, Lord, 189. 
Griboyedov, 246. 
Grimm, Baron, 180, 184. 
Grochov, the battle of, 286. 
Grodno, 376. 
Gurko, General, 399. 
Gustav III., King of Sweden, 156, 157. 
Gustav Vasa, Duke of Finland, 403. 
Gustavus IV. of Sweden, 407. 
Gustavus Adolphus, King of Sweden, 

Haas, Dr, 236. 

Hadziaz, the Treaty of, 345. 

Halitch, 373. 

Hardenberg, 207. 

Hastings, Mary, 46. 

Hedwig, « King " of Poland, 374, 376, 

Hegel, 270. 

Helen " the Terrible," 41. 
Helena Pavlovna, the Grand Duchess, 

303, 306, 316. 
Helsingfors, the University of, 297. 

Henry, Bishop, 403. 
Henry of Valois, 388. 
Heraclius of Georgia, 156, 160. 
Herberstein, 40. 

Herzen, Alexander, 273, 276, 297, 302. 
Hmielnitski, Bogdan, 342 f., 391. 
Holland, annexation of, 206. 
Holstein-Gottorp, Duke of. 6'ee Peter 


Horsley, physician to Alexei Mikhailo- 

vitch, 76. 
Hunkiar Skilessi, 289. 

Igor II. Olegovitch, 14. 

Igor Rurikovitch, 13. 

Ingerraanland, 405. 

Inkerman, the battle of, 293. 

Ismail, the siege of, 158. 

Italian War of Liberation, the, 398, 

Ivan I. (Kahta), 28, 32. 

Ivan II. Ivanovitch, 32. 

Ivan III. Vassilievitch (the Great), 

34 f., 55, 382, 383. 
Ivan IV. Vassilievitch (the Terrible), 

41 f., 55, 266. 
Ivan v., 83, 134. 
Ivan VI., 130, 134, 166. 
Izyaslav I. Yaroslavovitch, 13, 
Izya.slav II. Mstislavovitch, 14. 

Jankewics, 182. 

Japan, 312. 

Japanese War, the, 326. 

Jassy, 158, 188, 282. 

Jena, 202. 

Jenkinson (the explorer), 2, 46. 

Jones, Admiral Paul, 158. 

Joseph II. of Austria, 154, 164, 182. 

Joukovski, 295, 296. 

Juji Khan, 21. 

Kachovski, Lieutenant, 256. 
Kalish, 371. 
Kant, 360. 
Karakosov, 324. 
Karamsin, 246, 249, 257. 
Kars, the fall of, 282, 299. 
Kazan, 44, 132. 

the University of, 226. 
Kestud, Prince, 375. 
Kexholm, 405. 

Kharkov, the University of, 226, 243. 
Khokand, annexation of, 324. 
Kiev, 9, 10 f., 16 f., 23, 32, 56, 328, 332, 
376, 383, 386. 

the Academy of, 341. 
Kisselev, Count, 264, 309, 310. 
Klyuchevski (the historian), 50, 64. 



Koltsov, 275. 

Konaszemcz, Peter, 340, 341, 391. 

Korbjin, 169. 

Kosciusko, 394. 

Kostomarov, 276. 

Kotchoubey, Count, 198, 224, 229, 261. 

Kouletchova, the battle of, 283. 

Kourbski (the historian), 44, 50. 

Koutchouk Kainardji, the Treaty of, 

151, 154. 
Kraftstroem, General, 360. 
Krishanitch, 77. 
Kronstadt, 313, 325. 
Kruedner, Baroness, 237, 238. 
Krusenstjern, von, 361. 
Krylov, 275. 

Kulikovo Field, the battle of, 30. 
Kutaisaov, 193, 194. 
Kuyavia, 372, 373. 

Ladoga, Lake, 10, 92. 
Lafont, Madame, 181. 
Laharpe, 221, 222. 
Laibach, 218. 
Lanskoi, 303, 309, 319. 
Laoyang, battle of, 325. 
Lappe, battle of, 406. 
Lebrun, Madame, 184. 
Lefort, Frangois, 86, 88, 99. 
Leibnitz (the German savant), 114. 
Leipzig, the battle of, 213. 
Lemberg, investment of, 343. 
Leopold II. of Austria, 169. 
Lermontov, 275. 
Leroy-Beaulieu, M., 8, 302. 
Libau, 313. 

Liegnitz, the battle of, 22, 372. 
Lieven, Prince von, 267, 356. 
Lithuania, 33 f., 331 f., 375 f., 386. 
Livonia, 355, 357, 358, 360, 406. 
Lobanov, Prince, 203. 
Lomonossov, 179, 181. 
London, the Treaty of, 280. 
Louis XVIII., King of France, 214. 
Louis, King of Hungary, 374. 
Louis Philippe, 284. 
Lublin, 332, 371, 386. 
Luther, Martin, 356. 

Magnitzki, 243, 265. 
Makarius, the Metropolitan, 43. 
Malta, 191, 201. 
Mannerheim, Baron, 407. 
Maria Alexandrovna of Hesse-Darm- 
stadt, 297. 
Marienburg, 382. 
Masovia, 372, 373. 
Matveiev, Artamon, 77, 78. 

Maximilian I., Emperor, 4. 

Mazenderan, 95. 

Mazeppa, 94, 346. 

Mehemed Ali, Viceroy of Egypt, 289. 

Memel, 198. 

Mendovg, Prince, 375. 

Mentchikov, Prince, 100, 108, 119, 124, 

126, 126, 267, 290, 291. 
Methodius (apostle of the Slavs), 369. 
Metternich, Prince, 207, 212, 213, 214, 

216, 218, 241, 242. 
Mieszko, Prince of Kuyavia, 369. 
Mikhail II. Yaroslavovitch, 32. 
Mikhail Romanoff, 64, 65 f., 83. 
Mikhail Yurievitch, 32. 
Miloradovitch, General, 251, 252, 254, 

Milyukov, Professor, 269, 270. 
Milyutin, Assistant Minister, 309, 311, 
316, 319. 

General, 412. 
Minin of Nijni Novgorod, 63. 
Mniszek, Marina, 59, 68. 
Mohilev, 167, 376. 
Mohyla, Peter, Metropolitan of Kiev, 

75, 341. 
Moldavia, 338, 377, 381, 384. 
Montenegro, 148. 
Montesquieu, 188. 
Mordvinov, Admiral, 147. 
Morozov, 69, 70. 

Moscow, 26, 30, 33 f., 42, 43, 63, 91, 

the University of, 179, 268. 
Mouraviev, General, 399. 

Professor, 226. 
Mouraviev- Apostol, Colonel S. , 266,267. 
Mstislav I. Vladimirovitch, 14. 
Mukden, battle of, 325. 
Munich, General, 129, 131, 132, 140. 
Murad, the Sultan, 338. 
Muscovy, 375 f. 

the Grand Duke of, 382. 
Myslovski, 266. 

Napoleon III., 192, 197 f., 396, 396, 

398, 406. 
Narva, 91, 101. 
Naryshkin, Natalia, 77 f. 
Navarino, 280. 
Nekr^aov, 301. 

Nesselrode, Count, 283, 292, 298. 
Neva, the, 92. 

the battle of the, 24. 
Nicholaevsk, the port of, 312. 
Nicholas I., 251 f., 259 f., 284 f., 307, 

321, 360, 398, 410. 
Nicholas II., 321, 324, 412 f. 


Nicholas, the Grand Duke, 401. 
Nijni -Novgorod. 17. 
Nikon, Patriarch, 72 f. 
" Northern War," the. 91, 358,392,406. 
Novgorod, 9, 10, I(i, 23, 31, 34, 49, 378. 
Novikov, 185. 191. 2t>9. 
Novossiltzcv. M. de, 199, 224. 
Nyenschantz. 91. 

NysUdt, the Treaty of, 99, 101, 103, 
358, 405. 

Obolenski. Prince, 254, 419, 420. 
Odessa, 175, 325. 

bombardment of, 293. 

the harbour of, 313. 
Oldenburg, annexation of, 206. 
Oleg, vii, 10. 13. 

Olesnicki. Bishop of Cracow, 380, 383. 
Olga (widow of Igor Rurikovitch), 13. 
Olgerd, Prince, 329, 375, 376. 
Ordin-Nashtchokin, 75, 76. 
Orleans, the Duke of, 96. 
Orlov, Count Alexei, 148, 163, 164, 187, 

George, 141-143, 163. 
Ostermann, Baron, 100, 108, 124, 126, 

131, 132. 
Ostrolenko, the battle of, 287. 
Ostrovski, 276, 301. 
Otchakov, the fortress of, 156, 175. 
Oushakov, Admiral, 158. 
Ouvarov, Count, 267, 272. 

Pahlen, Count, 195, 223. 

Palestine, 355. 

Palitsin, 63. 

Panin, Count, 138, 141, 145, 195, 197, 

Paris, the capitulation of, 213. 

the Treaty of, 215, 324. 
Paskevitch, General, 282, 287, 290. 
Paterson, John, 236. 
Paul I., 189f., 306, 321, 359. 
Perekop, 129, 338. 
Perry, John, 121. 
Persia, the Shah of, 160. 

war with, 95. 
Pestalozzi, 296. 
Pestel, Colonel, 248, 256. 
Peter I. (the Great), 6, 82, 83, 84 f., 
106 f., 134, 266, 321, 358, 392, 405. 
Peter II. Alexeievitch, 125 f., 134,321. 
Peter III.. Duke of Holstein-Gottorp, 

138, 321. 
Petrachevski, 277. 
Petrograd, 91, 92, 129. 
Philaret, Metropolitan of Rostov, 60, 
64, 67, 68, 69. 

Philip, Abbot of Solovietsk, 49. 

Photi, the Metropolitan, 265. 

Pirogov (founder of the Russian 

Medical Society), 360. 
Pitt, William, 158. 
Plehve. von, 325, 417, 418. 
Plcttenbcrg, Walter von, 356. 
Pobycdonostsev, 324, 361, 363. 
Podolia, 374, 376, 381, 386, 391. 
Pogodin, 316. 
Pojarski, 63. 

Poland, 50, 145, 284 f., 304, 331 f., 
369 f., 386 f. 

revolution in, 147. 324, 391. 

the partition of, 394, 396. 

the wars of, 340 f., 391. 
Poland-Lithuania, 386. 
Polotsk, 167, 375, 376. 
Polotski, Simeon, 76, 80. 
Poltava, 91, 101, 332, 386. 

the battle of, 94. 
Pomerania, 372. 
Poniatovski, Count Stanislav, 138, 146, 

Port Arthur, 324. 

faU of, 325. 
Portsmouth, Treaty of, 325. 
Posen, 371. 

Possevin, the Jesuit, 50, 266. 
Possotchov, 101. 
Potemkin, 145, 153, 154, 155, 156, 158, 

163, 193. 
Potemkin, the, 325. 
Poti, the fort of, 282. 
Potocki, Crown Hetman, 342. 

Ignaz, 394. 
Potockis, the, 393. 
Potsdam, the Treaty of, 203. 
Pougatchev, 143, 173, 351. 
Praga, 159. 

Prague, the Congress of, 213. 
Preobrajenskoe, 80, 82. 
Pressburg, the Peace of, 201. 
Prokopovitch, 120. 
Protassov, General, 265. 
Prussia, war with Austria, 131. 
Pruth, the Treaty of the, 95. 
Pseudo-Dmitri, 59 f., 64. 
Pskov, 24, 40, 49, 378. 
Pushkin, 275. 

Radistchev, 186, 191. 

Radom, the Union of, 378, 384. 

Radziwill, Barbara, 386. 

Prince, 285. 
Ranke, Professor, 379. 
Rastrelli, 184. 
Razoumovski, 132, 141, 346. 



Rehbinder, Count, 410. 

Reval, 93. 

Revolaks, battle of, 406. 

Richelieu, Due de, 175. 

Riga, 93, 313. 

Roman of Volhynia, Prince, 373. 

Rostislav Mstislavovitch, 14. 

Rostopchin, Count, 189, 193, 195, 209, 

211, 236, 249. 
Rostov, the Archbishop of, 169. 
Roumyanzev, 150, 151, 176, 187, 204, 

Rousseau, 184. 
Rtishtchev, 75, 76. 
Rudolf of Hapsburg, Emperor, 338. 
Rurik, 10, 42, 92. 
Russia, the Baltic provinces of, 354 f. 

the regeneration of, 220 f. 

the unveiling of, 1 f. 

war with Sweden, 405. 
Russo-Turkish War, the, 146, 147, 149. 
Ryazan, 29, 378. 
Ryleyev, 246, 254, 256. 

St Petersburg. See Petrograd. 

the Treaty of, 394. 

the University of, 226, 243. 
Saltykov (lover of Catherine II.), 137. 

Count (tutor of Alexander I.), 214. 

Countess Darya, 170. 
Samarin, 311. 

San Stefano, Treaty of, 324. 
Sandomir, 372. 
Sarai, 23, 28. 
Schlitt, 44-45. 
Schliisselburg, the fortress of, 92, 132, 

Sergei, the Grand Duke, 325. 
Sevastopol, revolution in, 325. 

the harbour of, 175. 

the siege of, 293, 299, 302. 
Seven Years' War, the, 133. 
Shafirov, 100. 
Shamyl, 288, 299. 

Sheremetiev, Field -marshal Boris, 99, 

Count Nicholas, 169. 
Sherwood, 248. 

Shilder, 204, 217, 221, 229, 234. 
Shishkov, Admiral, 243. 
Shouvalov, Count, 179, 214. 
Shtcherbatov, Prince, 169. 
Shuiski, Prince Vassili, 41, 59 f., 64. 
Shumla, the siege of, 282. 
Siberia, 313, 349. 
Siebenburgen, 377. 
Sievers, Count, 175. 
Sigismund I., King of Poland, 384 f. 

Sigismund II. (Sigismund Augustus), 

386, 387. 
Sigismund III., 389. 
Silesia, 372. 
Silistria, 282, 283. 

Simeon Ivanovitch (the Proud), 28, 32. 
Sinope, 292. 
Skavronskaya, Martha. See Catherine 

(wife of Peter the Great). 
Skouratov, Malyuta, 59. 
Slavinitski, 75. 
Smolensk, 70, 375, 376, 382. 
Smolna, the Institute of, 181. 
Sobieski, General Ian, 391. 
Solovietsk, the monastery of, 47, 49. 
Soloviev (Russian historian), 107, 272, 

Solovyev, 324. 

Sophia Alexeievna, 80 f., 83, 89. 
Sophia Paleologos, 37 f. 
Sophie, Princess of Anhalt-Zerbst, 135. 
Souvorov, General, 156, 158, 159, 176, 

187, 191, 192. 
Speranski, Count, 204, 206, 229, 230 f., 

239, 240, 241, 246, 263, 264, 274, 

296, 307, 407. 
Spiridonov, Admiral, 147 f. 
Sprengporten (Finnish Governor), 407, 

Stanislav Lesczynski, 129, 392. 
Stefan Bathory, King of Poland, 50, 

339, 358, 388 f. 
Stein, Freiherr von, 212. 
Steinheil, Count, 409. 
Stenka Razin, 71, 173, 350. 
Stolbovo, the Treaty of, 67. 
Stolypin, P. A., 325. 
Strogonov, Count, 224, 268. 
Struve, W., 361. 
Sturter, Colonel, 254. 
Suzdal, 16 f., 90, 328, 378. 
Sveaborg, 293, 325, 406. 
Svyatoslav I. Igorovitch, 13. 
Svyatopolk II. Izyaslavovitch, 14. 
Svyatoslav II. Yaroslavovitch, 14. 
Svyatoslav III. Vsevolodovitch, 32. 
Sweden, 131, 403 f. 

war with Poland, 391. 
Sylvester, 43, 44, 47, 51. 

Talleyrand, 214. 
Tamerlane, 33. 
Tammerfors, 420. 
Tannenberg, the battle of, 378. 
Tashkent, 324. 

Tatishtchov (the historian), 177. 
Tcheniigov, 332, 386. 
Tchesme, 149, 187. 


'IVliiU'lmgov. Aiiiiiirnl, 187. 

Tfhushiinii. Iwttlc of, 326. 

Tfhcriiii. 27;). 

'IVimunouth, lyiinl, 2.'{7. 

Thoophivl I'mkopoviU'li, Metropolitan 

of Novgorod, 100. 
'riuMphiliut, .Xri'libishop of I'.skov, 

'rhomiis. lii.sliop of Abo. 40:{. 404. 
Thorn, tlu- I'l-iuo of. :}82. 
TiLsit. tin- 'IVoaty of, 20:{, 204, 229, 

.•Ji);"). 400. 
Todlobeii, (icnoral von, .'UiT. 
Toll, Count, 254. 
Tolly, Princo Barclay do, 3()7. 
Tol.stoi, Count, 100. ' 

Count Loo, 270. 30r>. 
Touptalo, Dmitri. 100. 
Tourgenicv, 276, 297, 301., 179. 
Trent, the Council of, 385. 
Troitza monastery, the, 63. 
Troppau, 218. 

Troubetzkoi. Prince, 248, 253, 264. 
Turkey, 200, 290. 

war with Rus.sia, 94, 146, 147, 168, 
282 {. 
Turkmantchai, the Treaty of, 279. 
Tver, 29. 

Ukraina, the, 70, 78, 81, 148, 327 f., 

386, 391. 
Uralsk, 173. 
Ustrailov, 276. 

Valouyev, 319. 

Varela, the Peace of, 158. 

Varna, 282. 

the battle of, 380. 
Vassili I. Dmitrievitch, 32. 
Vassili II. Vasailievitch (the Blind), 32. 
Vassili III. Ivanovitch, 40, 55. 
Vassili Ostrov, 93. 
Vassili Yaroslavovitch, 32. 
Venning, Mr, 235 f. 
Verona, 218. 
Viborg, 405, 409, 411. 
Vienna, the Congress of, 214, 396. 
Vilna, the Confederation of, 390. 

the Protestant school of, 385. 

the University of, 226, 287, 394, 397. 
VinogradofE, Professor, 326. 
Vitepsk, 375, 376. 

Vitovt, Prince of Grodno, 375, 378 f. 
Vladimir, 16 f., 26, 32, 328. 
Vladimir I. Svyatoslavovitch, 10, 13. 
Vladimir II. Vsevolodovitch (Mono- 
mach), 12, 14, 22. 

Vhuli.slav of roland, (i2, 64, 6(i,;t42,39l. 
Vladislav II., 377. 
Vladislav 111., ;{80. 
Vladi.slav IV., 342, 390 f. 
Vladislav Lioozok, King, 373. 
Volga, tlio. Hi, 44. 
Volhynia, 374, 37(i, 381. 386. 
Voltaire, 136, 184. 
Voronzov, 4 1, 132. 

Klizaboth, 137. 
Vseslav Vsevoloilovitch, 14. 
Vsevoiod I. Yaroslavovitch, 14. 
Vsevolod II. Ologovitch, 14. 
Vsevolod III. Yurievitch, 20, 32. 

Wainomoinen, 402. 

Wailachia, 377. 

Warsaw, 159, 202, 394, 395, 396. 

capitulation of, 287. 
Washington, George, 239. 
Wellington, the Duke of, 215, 257, 

281, 283. 
Western Prussia, 382. 
Westphalia, the Treaty of, 71. 
Wilhclm of Austria, 374. 
William III., King, 89. 
Willoughby, Sir Hugh, 2. 
Wisby (Gothland), 354. 
Wisin, von, 186. 
Wlsniowiecki, Prince, 391. 
Witte, Count, 323. 
Wittgenstein, 282. 
Wylie, Sir James, 249. 

Yagiello, Grand Duke of Lithuania, 
332, 375, 376, 377 f. See also 
Vladislav II. 

Yagoushinski, 100. 

Yaropolk I. Svyatoslavovitch, 13. 

Yaropolk II. Vladimirovitch, 14. 

Yaroslav I. Vladimirovitch (the Wise), 
11, 13, 370. 

Yaroslav II. Vsevolodovitch, 32. ( 

Yaroslav III. Yaroslavovitch, 32. 

Yavorski, Stephen, 100. 

Yermak, 349. 

Yermolov, General, 279, 288. 

Yuri Danilovitch, 32. 

Yuri Dolgorouki, 42. 

Yuri Vladimirovitch, 32. 

Yuri II. Vsevolodovitch, 32. 

Yuryev. See Dorpat. 


Zamosc, fortress of, 343. 
Zamozski, 389. 
Zavadovski, 220, 225. 
Zoubov, Count, 195, 223. 



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